Nick McCrory and David Boudia dominated the early rounds in 10-meter synchro at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Sunday night, advancing to the final with a 114.84-point lead.
The duo led every round of the preliminaries and semifinals while totaling 919.86 points on opening night of the eight-day trials at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, located south of Seattle. McCrory is seeking his first Olympic berth, while Boudia is going for his second.
"We're using it as a practice meet," Boudia said. "Everything is a step toward London. It's not going to be an easy fight."
Toby Stanley and Steele Johnson were second at 805.02, while Johnson was third with a different partner, Dashiell Enos, at 782.16. Scores carry over to Thursday's final.
McCrory and Boudia first partnered last year and finished fifth on platform synchro at the world championships in Shanghai, where Boudia won a silver in 10-meter individual — the only medal U.S. divers won in China.
"It's comforting knowing it's something he's been through before and knows what to expect," McCrory said.
Boudia said he has never felt so comfortable with McCrory.
"I learn more from Nick than I provide," he said. "We kind of grew up in our competition readiness. It's neat to have a teammate like that."
McCrory and Boudia had the toughest list of any divers in the early rounds. They earned some of their highest scores for an inward 3½ somersaults tuck in the semis — all 9.5s for synchronization and nothing lower than 9.0 for execution.
"We've been using this list for quite a while now," McCrory said. "Degree of difficulty is a very important thing."
All eight teams advanced to the final, but only the top team will earn an Olympic berth.
Johnson was cheered on by at least 12 family members, some of whom live in the Seattle area. He dove third with Enos, then came back and dove in the next-to-last spot with Stanley. Enos also teamed with a different partner, Mark Murdock, and they were in fourth place.
"It's more opportunity to make the team," Johnson said. "It's a lot of fun. It is unusual. It can make your body tired."
Johnson said he makes only one adjustment — moving his arms a bit later — when diving with each of his partners. He admits he would feel "a little bit" guilty if he made the Olympic team with one of them and not the other.
Logan Shinholser and Ryan Hawkins were fifth, followed by Zachary Cooper and Jordan Windle, Nicholas Klein and Andrew Cramer, and Christopher Law and Samuel Smith.
In women's 3-meter synchro, Abby Johnston and Kelci Bryant held a small lead over Kassidy Cook and Christina Loukas.
Johnston and Bryant totaled 637.80 points through the prelims and semis.
Cook and Loukas finished at 631.29 after Cook's slight bobble in the fourth round of the prelims dropped them out of the lead.
"Both of us definitely have the experience, and we definitely know how to handle the pressure," Loukas said.
The other six teams that advanced to Thursday's final were well behind. Deidre Freeman and Veronica Rydze were third at 531.90, followed by Carrie Dragland and Bianca Alvarez, Amanda Burke and Summer Allman, Gabriella Agostino and Logan Kline, Eszter Pryor and Rachel Rubadue, and Maren Taylor and Meghan Houston.
The top two teams are the most experienced in the women's event. Johnston, Bryant and Cook competed at last year's world championships in Shanghai, while Bryant and Loukas are seeking their second consecutive Olympic berths.
Johnston and Bryant held a slim 0.27 lead after the preliminaries over Cook and Loukas.
"We had to follow Kassidy and Christina," said Bryant, who doesn't sneak any peeks at her rivals' scores. "They are great divers and they were hitting their dives. As a younger diver, I used to be, 'Oh, look at all the people in the stands.' Now it's me and Abby and the diving board."
Cook and Loukas led through the first three rounds of prelims, but they were out of sync on a forward with 3 1/2 somersaults pike — their toughest dive of the five-round prelims. That gave Johnston and Bryant a slight opening to take over the top spot, although none of their dives had more than a 3.0 degree of difficulty in either round.
"I got a little stuck so I had to leave it a little bit short," Cook said. "I know in finals I won't be making the same mistake."
Johnston and Bryant led all five rounds of the semifinals, when scores carried over from prelims. The top eight teams advanced to the final.