As the entire world watches, Brandon native and world-champion diver Chris Colwill will attempt to bring home a gold medal this week during the men's 3m springboard competition at the London Olympics.
The preliminary round takes place at 2 p.m. today, Aug. 6, with the top 18 divers advancing to semifinals Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 5 a.m. Then, the top 12 from the semifinals will dive in the championship round Tuesday at 2 p.m.
Colwill's parents, Chuck and Debbie Colwill of Southoak, and his longtime girlfriend, Chelsea Nauta, a competitive swimmer, will be among the spectators watching Colwill take the plunge at London's Olympic Stadium.
"This is really exciting stuff," said Chuck Colwill. "We're very proud of Chris."
The men's 3m springboard competition has three phases, each phase consisting of six dives. A random draw is made in advance to decide the order in which the athletes will dive. A panel of seven judges assesses each dive, giving a score out of 10.
After the preliminary round, the best 18 divers in each event progress to the semifinal. Athletes dive in reverse order of their scores in the preliminary round, with the highest scoring athlete diving last.
The best 12 divers from the semifinal in each event progress to the final. Again they dive in phases and in reverse order of their scores in the semi-final, with the highest-placed diver going last.
The scores achieved in the final are the ones that determine the medals. The diver with the highest total score takes the gold.
It's the moment Colwill, 27, has been preparing for his entire life.
He began diving at the age of 5 at the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center and continued diving competitively at Tampa Preparatory School.
This is Colwill's second trip to the Olympics. The University of Georgia graduate placed fourth in the men's 3-meter synchronized diving competition at the Beijing Games. After that, Colwill wasn't sure if he'd attempt to make the Olympic team again.
"I thought about it and decided to go for it," said Colwill, adding, "This will be my last Olympics."
But his dream to compete in the London Olympics was nearly dashed when Colwill broke his hand during a dive last year and ended up missing critical diving events. As a result, he lost his world ranking as well as the stipend from the U.S. Olympic Committee that financed his training and travels.
Nevertheless, he was able to continue training thanks to a sponsorship from AT&T and the support of his parents who sold Team Colwill T-shirts throughout Brandon to raise funds to send Colwill to the Olympic trials.
It was well worth it, said Chuck Colwill, who was on hand at the diving trials in Federal Way, Wash., in June.
"He nailed it," said Chuck Colwill of his son's performance at the trials. “I’ll tell you what, it was probably the most amazing thing I’ve witnessed."
That dive earned Colwill a place on the London-bound U.S. diving team.
This time, however, Colwill said he's not going to be quite as intense as he was during the Beijing games. He said he's been working hard on his form and landing. But, at the same time, he said he's trying to have fun diving.
"He's a lot more relaxed," said his dad, "a lot more relaxed than I am. If he felt any pressure, he sure didn't show it."
Chris Colwill gives his parents credit for his diving success, recalling them driving him to countless early-morning practices as well as competitions around the state.
"They've always been there to support me," said Colwill.
Today will be no exception.
Watch live at 2 p.m. online http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/video-watch.html?video=preliminaries-mens-3m-springboard
For now: The NBC Olympic TV listings do not indicate that the event will be on TV today, until a replay tonight sometime after 8 p.m. on NBC (WFLA). There is a half hour of programming from 2-2:30 p.m. on MSNBC listed as TBA. You can also view live coverage of the event on your tablet or computer by going to this link.