Residents will have a chance to meet Olympic diver Chris Colwill and purchase a signed Team Colwill T-shirt when the Brandon native visits his old training grounds, the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center, 405 Beverly Blvd., Brandon.
Colwill, who now lives in Athens, Ga., will be at the center Saturday, July 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to his father, Chuck, who lives in south Brandon.
“We’re putting together a sendoff for him before he heads to London,” said Chuck Colwill. “It’s a chance for Chris to thank all the people who have been supporting him.”
At age 27, Colwill, a Tampa Prep graduate who trained at the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center, is considered one of the top divers in the country. After high school, he went on to attend the University of Georgia where he continued diving at the collegiate level. He graduated with a degree in speech communications in 2008 but spends his spare time practicing and participating in diving competitions.
He first made the Olympic dive team in 2008, coming in 12th at the Beijing games.
A nearly flawless dive during the men’s 3-meter springboard June 24 in Federal Way, Wash., earned Colwill another spot on the 2012 Olympic team.
Colwill’s parents, Chuck and Debbie were on hand in Washington to see him qualify.
“I’ll tell you what,” said Chuck Colwill. “It was probably the most amazing thing I’ve witnessed. It was pretty special.”
In anticipation of their son’s success, the Colwills had already reserved a hotel room in London and purchased tickets for the Olympic events a year ago.
“I was really nervous going into the trials, but Chris performed beautifully, really amazing,” Chuck Colwill said. “I’m not sure what we would have done if he hadn’t made it but we were pretty confident he would. It’s not an optional trip for us. It’s mandatory.”
In the 10 years since Chris Colwill launched his diving career, he’s traveled to competitions around the world. And his parents have been right by his side.
“We’ve seen the world thanks to Chris,” said his dad. “We’ve been to China, Italy, Turkey, Greece, France, Australia, the Czech Republic, Canada and Mexico.”
Most recently, in February, the Colwills had a chance to watch their son dive at the newly constructed Olympic Stadium in London for the FINA Diving World Cup. FINA is the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming.
Colwill finished ninth in the men’s 3-meter preliminaries, qualifying the United States for a second Olympic spot in that event. Each country can qualify up to two spots in each individual event.
Chuck Colwill said he was impressed with the new Olympic facility and is looking forward to seeing more events there July 27 to Aug. 12.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” said Colwill. “It was designed by an Iranian architect. On the outside, it looks like a whale and, inside, you get the feeling you’re in the whale’s belly, a la Jonah. It’s kind of an undulating feeling inside.”
Most of all, he said he’s looking forward to seeing his son dive for the Gold.
“This is very cool stuff,” said Colwill. “We’ve been very blessed.”