The Road to Paris Begins in Knoxville (for the US Olympics Diving Team)

US Olympic Diving Trials Announced, Visit Knoxville, July 2023

Watching the Olympic Games has long been a tradition for me. When I was a kid, it was all about the gymnastics women’s team. Watching the likes of Kerri Strugg, Kim Zemeskal, and coach Béla Károlyi made for some fond memories of my early Olympics interests. Fast Forward to early in my marriage. I remember putting together baby furniture in 2006, watching the opening ceremonies in Torino. My appreciation of the Olympics has only grown, and I’ve branched out to watch more and more of the sports. Matt and I watched Michael Phelps set a record for gold medals in his swimming events in 2008 when we were in the hospital after having our second baby.

Once our kids were old enough, I sat them in front of the tv, and we watched it as a family every four years. I even made themed décor and cookies.

While I still cry every time one of our guys/gals wins a medal (especially the gold when they play the national anthem) or when Proctor and Gamble did that commercial where the Olympians thanked their parents, I’ve still never been a degree closer to the efforts and activities that go into creating Olympic teams. That is all about to change.

Once again, the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission is hosting a top-tier sporting event in the city. The US Olympic Diving Team Trials will be held at the Allen Jones Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee in June 2024. (High five to Kim Bumpas, Chad Culver, and their incredible teams at Visit Knoxville!) In addition to the visibility this type of event brings to Knoxville, it also brings spectator and participant dollars to the community. Indianapolis has hosted 7 of the last 10 diving championships. Visit Knoxville Sports Commission won the bid to host the event by highlighting the vast resources and services offered in our fair city, along with a track record of successfully hosting events of its kind.

“We’re very excited to bring the trials to Knoxville,” USA Diving President Lee Michaud said. “The city has a rich history of hosting major events, and we’re thrilled to continue that in 2024. We were very impressed with the vision and enthusiasm they brought forth in their bid.”

Lee Michaud, President, USA Diving, US Olympic Diving Trials Announced, Visit Knoxville, July 2023

USA Diving has also announced that the 2023 USA Diving Winter National Championships, including a Winter Nationals Qualifier, will be held from November 27 through December 6 at the Allen Jones Aquatic Center at UT. This is one of 20 qualifiers to reach the championships in June 2024. Competing in the winter trials here will also allow them to familiarize themselves with the facility before the Olympic trials in June.

Visit Knoxville reports that the Winter National Championships will also serve as the trials for the 2024 World Aquatics Championships, which will be held in Doha, Qatar, in February 2024 and will be the final chance for countries to secure quota spots for the Olympic Games. In total, 136 competitors (68 of each gender) will earn a spot on the USA Diving team to represent the USA in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

According to Swimming World Magazine, USA Diving expects over 100 competitors at the 2024 US Olympic Diving Team Trials. Diving at the Paris Olympics will include eight events: 3-meter springboard and 10-meter springboard, in both individual and synchronized for men and women. The number of spots allocated in each is to be determined by qualifying. The event is expected to bring 7,500 hotel room needs over the 8 competition days in June 2024 and national exposure via TV and internet programming and digital rights holders, including NBC and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

“We’re thrilled about the opportunity to work alongside Visit Knoxville to host such a prestigious event,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White said. “Tennessee Athletics has a rich Olympic history—particularly as it relates to swimming & diving, with former Vols and Lady Vols capturing 16 Olympic medals in the pool since 1972. The 2024 US Olympic Team Trials will allow us to expand on that history in a different way by showcasing our world-class facility and campus while welcoming the US diving community to Rocky Top.”

Dave Parrington, University of Tennessee Diving Coach, US Olympic Diving Trials Announced, Visit Knoxville, July 2023

Tennessee diving coach Dave Parrington said at the press conference in June held at the Visit Knoxville offices, “It has been since 1976 since we have hosted the Olympic Diving trials in the old outdoor pool, during which the legendary Greg Louganis kickstarted his amazing career by winning both men’s events at age 15. Who knows, perhaps history can repeat itself, and a young up-and-coming male or female diving star may emerge, or how about a Tennessee Vol. Personally, since 1990 when I was named Head Diving Coach here at the University of Tennessee, I have had it in my mind that it would be very cool to have this event sometime to bring our great sport at the highest level back to Knoxville. After discussing it with Marshall, then Visit Knoxville, the ball started rolling. This will be great for our local diving community, not to mention many other aspiring young athletes looking to catch the Olympic Dream.”

Who knows? Maybe it will be a Knoxville native who brings home the gold. Regardless, I’m a degree closer and will be cheering these men and women on from the stands in June and my couch in July as we watch the games play out in Paris!

Kim Bumpas-Visit Knoxville, Monica Lebron-University of Tennessee, Lee Michaud-USA Diving, Chad Culver-Visit Knoxville, Dave Parrington-University of Tennessee, US Olympic Diving Trials Announced, Visit Knoxville, July 2023