Andrew CapobiancoDivingNewsOlympic Diving Trials

Diver Andrew Capobianco Left His Last Olympics With Silver But Hopes To Do Things Differently In Paris

by Lisa Costantini

Andrew Capobianco poses for a portrait at the 2024 Team USA shoot on Nov. 15, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Getty Images)

When the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Diving concludes at the end of this month, Andrew Capobianco hopes to have earned his spot on his second Olympic team. If he does, he knows this next Games experience will be different than the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — but for reasons other than the strict COVID-19 protocols. 

Going into the last Games, he was dealing with a back injury that made it hard for him to train. “I didn’t necessarily feel the best confidence-wise,” Capobianco said about how he felt when he arrived in Japan. But after winning a silver medal in men’s 3-meter synchronized diving, Tokyo taught him “that I’m a lot stronger and mentally tougher than I thought I was.”

That thinking is going to come in handy going into trials, which begin on June 17 in Knoxville, Tennesse. 

“My coach always says, ‘The second one is hardest to qualify and then compete at because you try to do everything similar to the last time,’” the 24-year-old shared. But three years later, he is a different person, and as a result, “I have to do things differently than I did last time.”

That also means working with a different partner. In Tokyo, the Holly Springs, North Carolina, native was teamed up in synchro with two-time Olympian Michael Hixon, who retired after the Tokyo Games.  

Now, the Indiana University grad is looking to be named to the team headed to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 — hopefully alongside fellow Hoosier, Quinn Henninger

“My new synchro partner is really coming into his own,” Capobianco said about the 21-year-old. With a six-year age difference between him and his last partner, “it was hard for him to understand where I was at in life,” he admitted about Hixon. 

While they still worked well together — and had a similar energy on the pool deck — Capobianco revealed how this partnership is different. 

Due to their closeness in age, “Quinn and I are more like friends, whereas Mike was more of a mentor to me,” he said.

Still living in Indiana, Capobianco admitted that the pair have a leg up on the competition thanks to their proximity to one another. 

“It makes it so much easier training when we’re able to be in the pool together every day,” he said about the IU facility they can access. Without it, they wouldn’t have a centralized training location. Because for many synchro teams, “they have to travel to each other to train.”

Andrew Capobianco competes during the men's 3-meter springboard finals at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships on July 20, 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Getty Images)

“We have such a great swimming and diving program at IU,” Capobianco said, crediting much of his success to his alma mater. “At the last Olympics, we had, I think, 14 swimmers and divers in total just from Indiana. To have that level of excellence on the pool deck every day is really special knowing that they’re training as hard as they can and seeing us training hard as well.”

Being a part of a team is something that pushes Capobianco — who finished 10th in the individual event in Tokyo. 

“Sometimes when I have an individual focus, I don’t necessarily do my best because I think a lot of my motivation comes externally and knowing that I’m trying to perform my best for the people who have gotten me here,” he said. “That’s what is so exciting about competing for Team USA. The feeling that I’m competing for my country and trying to do my best doesn’t create nerves but focus. It gets me dialed in and ready to go!”

Growing up as a gymnast, Capobianco has been diving for 13 years. It took only a couple of years into the sport before he decided he wanted to commit to it full-time, quitting everything else. Now it’s all he can see himself doing. 

“I want to be a coach after I’m done diving,” he said. Currently, he works with a junior diving club in Bloomington with his coach, Drew Johansen, who is also the head coach at IU. “He is my mentor not only as a diver but also as a coach,” said Capobianco. “He’s helping me run the club and try to grow the sport of diving in Bloomington.”

Ironically, it’s another sport Johansen — who was the Team USA diving coach in Tokyo — uses to describe his athlete’s dives: golf. 

“So, it’s like par, birdie, eagle, bogey, double bogey,” Capobianco explained. “For us, I know that our par is set at like 80 points. So, if we’re around 80 points regardless of the score we’re going to be happy with that. But if we’re getting eagles on every dive, which is 90-100 then that’s where we know that we’re challenging for that gold medal.”

The biggest competition for the top spot on the podium in Paris is going to be Team China, who dominated at world championships earlier this year winning all eight events, only the second time that’s ever happened.  

“They are the team to beat, so it’s going to take a lot of work,” he said. “It will be hard. Our last gold medal in diving was David Boudia in 2012 [in the 10-meter platform]. For me, it’s going to take my best.”

But regardless of whether he qualifies for Paris, “I’m still an Olympian,” said Capobianco. “But I’m sticking with the plan and training hard every day.”

Lisa Costantini has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for more than a decade, including for the International Olympic Committee. She is a freelance writer who has contributed to since 2011.