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Youngsters make their mark in diving

Thomas Finchum and Drew Livingston win synchronized platform title, but future might belong to Jordan Windle, 12, and Zachary Cooper, 13.

August 12, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Thomas Finchum, left, and Drew Livingston compete in the men's synchronized platform finals at the AT&T National Diving Championship on Friday night.
Thomas Finchum, left, and Drew Livingston compete in the men's synchronized… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

Thomas Finchum and Drew Livingston scored three perfect 10s on their way to winning the AT&T National Diving Championship synchronized men's platform gold medal Friday night at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center.

But 12-year-old Jordan Windle and his 13-year-old partner Zachary Cooper drew smiles with a fifth-place finish that might have signaled their arrival as a team to be watched.

Finchum and Livingston, who were diving together in a meet for the first time, finished with 452.22 points and dominated the competition with their final two dives, for which the perfect scores were given by three judges. Toby Stanley and Steele Johnson finished second with 404.70 points and the bronze medals were won by Logan Shinholser and Ryan Hawkins.

Windle, who is 4 feet 5, was adopted from Cambodia when he was 18 months old by Jerry Windle and Andre Rodriguez and lived in Florida until moving recently to Indianapolis to work at the national training center.

His talent was obvious enough that Windle filmed a segment of "Get'cha Head In the Game," a Disney Channel program, with diving legend Greg Louganis.

Windle is in constant motion. He was hopping up and down when the divers for his event were lined up to be introduced and he got out of the water after each dive with a huge smile on his face.

"This feels really great," Windle said after he and Cooper finished fifth in their first senior national meet together. "I didn't think we'd get this far. But it was really fun. It's what we do."

Windle said that his ultimate goal is to go to the Olympics. "That would be a rush," he said.

Finchum and Livingston have practiced together for only about two weeks total. They also work at the national training center in Indianapolis and Finchum said it was "crazy" to watch Windle and Cooper training.

"It is awesome to see them diving," Finchum said. "They work so hard and they're so bright."

Michael Hixon, whose father, David, is the basketball coach at Amherst University and who is coached by his mother, Mandy, won the 1-meter springboard gold medal.

Hixon, 17, hit his final dive, an inward 2 1/2 somersault, for mostly scores of 9.0s and 9.5s and won by a whopping 16 points, scoring 392.20 points overall.

Samuel Dorman of Tempe, Ariz., won the silver medal with 376.20 points and Greg Ferrucci, a University of Kentucky sophomore from Huntersville, N.C., was third. Dwight Dumais of Oxnard finished sixth in the event, which is not featured at the Olympics.

Hixon said he noticed that Dorman was only about five points behind him going into the final dive. He said he loved the feeling of hitting big in a moment when the title might have been on the line. "I stayed real tight," he said. "It felt so great."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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