David Boudia hopes to compete in his third Olympic games next year. The 26-year-old Noblesville, Indiana, native remains among the best divers in the world as he trains at Purdue with a new synchronized 10-meter platform partner. Diving alongside Boudia is 19-year-old Steele Johnson from Carmel, Indiana. Johnson is the reigning Big Ten Conference diver of the year, winning the NCAA 1-meter and platform national titles as a Purdue freshman.
If the pair qualifies for the Olympics a year from now in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Johnson would be the 3rd different synchro partner for Boudia in three separate Olympics.
“I’ve had a lot of shortcomings and a lot of failures in my career,” said Boudia after a practice at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. “It’s kind of nice to be able to speak wisdom into his life and maybe save him from some of those failures that I’ve experienced. It’s nice to kind of be in that mentor role.”
“There’s definitely like that much older brother, much younger brother (dynamic),” said Johnson. “But it’s kind of like a close brotherhood. We’re friends. But he definitely picks on me all the time, from the moment I walk in practice he’ll be picking on me like my older brother does every time I see him.”
Boudia and Johnson rank as the top synchro pair in the United States heading to the World Championships July 24 – August 2 in Kazan, Russia. The team leaves for Russia July 15.
“Their physical ability to synchronize is unbelievable,” said Purdue diving coach Adam Soldati, who coaches the pair, “one of the best synchro teams that I have ever seen. That’s a beautiful thing to have. Now it comes down to the execution of the individual dives.”
Boudia competed in his first Olympics in Beijing in 2008, finishing 5th with partner Thomas Finchum on the 10-meter platform. In 2012 in London, Boudia won the individual 10-meter platform gold medal and the bronze on the platform with Nick McCrory.
Life has changed dramatically for Boudia since winning gold in London. He married his wife Sonnie in October 2012 and the couple now has a 10-month-old daughter, Dakoda.
“Even though my body is wearing down and I am quote, unquote, older in my sport at 26, I feel like I’m the strongest that I’ve been,” said Boudia. “It’s not because I’ve trained harder, but because I’ve trained smarter.”
Johnson may have to redshirt next season at Purdue in order to compete internationally for spot on the Olympic team.
“This time next year I could be an Olympian,” said Johnson. “It kind of gets my heart racing. But at the same time, it’s kind of reassuring because David has already been to two Olympics. He’s an Olympic bronze medalist in synchro, Olympic gold medalist in individual, so he’s got the experience. He’s got the knowhow. He’s really helped me grow in the international scene.”
The Purdue pair is likely to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team next June at the trials at the Natatorium in Indianapolis.
“God has given them a certain level of ability and talent that they certainly had nothing to do with,” said Soldati. “I want to see them foster that talent. I want to see them do the best that they can with that talent that God has given them and continue to use diving and that podium of being on the top right now to continue to influence others.”