Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer are dancing their way to Tokyo.
Relaxed, smiling and vibing to the beat throughout the final round of the women’s synchronized 3m springboard event at the U.S. Diving Trials, Gibson and Palmer became the first two American divers to qualify for the Olympic Games this summer.
“I’ve been, I guess, working for this day my whole life and now it’s here. It’s surreal,” Gibson said after the final round of dives. She and Palmer will each compete at their first Olympics in Tokyo.
In an event that requires chemistry and trust between partners, the strength of Gibson and Palmer’s relationship was evident throughout the competition.
“It’s just so special to do this alongside [Alison] because we just have such a great friendship, such a good bond,” Palmer said. “It’s just going to be special to share this moment with her. It already is!”
Palmer, 28, became a diver much later than the majority of her competitors at U.S. Trials. A former gymnast and trampoline athlete, injuries forced her away from those sports and into diving at age 20. She competed at Trials in 2016 on the 10m platform but switched to springboard within the last five-year cycle.
Meanwhile, Gibson, 21, began diving as a 9-year-old in Austin, Texas. She stayed local for college, competing for the University of Texas while studying advertising, one of the most competitive majors at that school.
While they lack Olympic experience, the duo represented the U.S. in the synchro springboard at the last major international competition to take place before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the 2019 World Championships. They finished 10th in the event.
Gibson and Palmer carried a 21.45-point lead into the final round over the team that won the Olympic quota spot for the U.S. in the event, Kassidy Cook and Sarah Bacon. Cook, a Rio 2016 Olympian, and Bacon, silver medalist at the 2021 Diving World Cup chipped into the lead through the five-dive final round but were unable to make up enough ground knock Gibson and Palmer off the top spot.
If Gibson and Palmer had nerves during the final, they disguised them with laughter.
“Dancing, smiling, a lot of really bad jokes,” kept the pair loose, Gibson said.
Both Gibson and Palmer are also contenders to qualify for Tokyo in the individual springboard event. Gibson is in a close third with five dives to go, while Palmer leads the event comfortably. The top two divers after all three rounds earn Olympic entry. The final round of the women’s individual springboard takes place Saturday, June 12, at 4 p.m. ET.
The U.S. Diving Trials continue with finals through the weekend. They can be seen on NBC, NBCSN and streaming live on NBCOlympics.com and Peacock.