KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Thomas Finchum released a single with his band, Northern Nights. David Boudia focused on schoolwork at Purdue University.
Both men say their activities outside diving have helped them better focus on their sport as they aim to return to the Olympics. They're among eight members of the 2008 Olympic diving squad scheduled to compete at the USA Diving Winter National Championships in Knoxville, which run through Thursday.
"Having a bunch of school work and competing in the NCAAs and for the United States, it was hard to balance, but I think that's what's helped me grow as an athlete," Boudia said. "I feel like I've been so blessed with so much support from Purdue that my diving's been the best that it's been."
Boudia has compiled a lengthy list of NCAA, national and international accomplishments since he and Finchum finished fifth in the synchronized platform diving event at in Beijing. Most recently the 22-year-old earned the silver medal on the 10-meter platform at the 2011 world championships, becoming the first U.S. male to medal in individual platform at worlds since Greg Louganis and Bruce Kimball won the gold and bronze in 1986.
Boudia credits the discipline he's gained by learning how to juggle his college workload with his training and from the mentoring he's received from Purdue coach Adam Soldati, who has encouraged him not only to improve in the water but away from diving as well.
He's been completely focused on his training since the national championships in August and is ready for the hectic schedule of competition leading up to June's Olympic trials. Boudia will compete in the individual 10-meter platform as well as synchronized platform and synchronized 3-meter springboard with Nick McCrory for spots at the Olympic trials and February's World Cup competition in London during the Winter National Championships.
"I've never felt this good diving ever," he said. "I've had just a solid four months of straight training since our national championships in August. I haven't had that in maybe five or six years. Being able to train for four months and just work on fundamentals and get a good foundation down, I feel like my diving is the best it's ever felt."
Finchum has been working on returning to top form since having surgery in June 2010 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Finchum has kept up with a mostly regular competition schedule in the past year but will be competing in the 3-meter springboard for the first time since the surgery in addition to platform and the synchronized diving events with Toby Stanley.
"It was hard to come back, honestly," he said. "This meet here is actually the first meet I feel totally normal, 100 percent like myself. I'm really excited to compete here and really excited to show people I'm really back now."
The 22-year-old Finchum has delayed college while he trains in Indianapolis six days a week for nearly eight hours every day. He has found time for music, squeezing in a four-hour practice with his bandmates twice a week.
Finchum joined with three other musicians to form Northern Nights about six months ago, and the country group released its first single, "Baby I'm Gone," a few weeks ago on iTunes. While his mother was concerned he would overextend himself, Finchum has found that writing songs and playing with Northern Nights is helping him manage what can be a stressful time on the diving circuit.
"I feel like I need this to keep me sane," he said. "Music and songwriting is so different than diving. Diving is so strict, and writing songs is a way to get all of that stress out and take all of those emotions and put them into something. It's something that I can have a bad day and come home and write a song and it makes you feel better."