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LI native Andrew Capobianco qualifies for Tokyo Olympics in synchronized diving with win at trials

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JUNE 11: Andrew Capobianco and

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JUNE 11: Andrew Capobianco and Michael Hixon embrace after placing first in the men's synchronized 3-meter springboard event during 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials - Diving - Day 6 at Indiana University Natatorium on June 11, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Dylan Buell

Andrew Capobianco once ruled Nassau County in diving. Now he and his diving partner will have a chance to rule the world — at the Olympics.

Capobianco, who became the first seventh-grader to win the Nassau championship when he was competing for Wantagh in 2012, has qualified with partner Michael Hixon for the Tokyo-bound U.S. Olympic Team. They won the men’s 3-meter synchronized competition by 120.57 points in the Trials Friday night at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis.

Hixon is 26 and already owns an Olympic silver in the event. That came with Sam Dorman in Rio in 2016. But for Capobianco, this will be his first time as an Olympian, and he’s only 21.

"It’s pretty surreal right now," Capobianco said at a news conference following the victory. "It hasn’t all the way sunk in."

He’s also trying to qualify individually for Team USA in the 3-meter springboard, and stands sixth heading into Sunday’s finals.

The Mineola-born Capobianco moved to North Carolina and graduated from Holly Springs High there in 2017. He’s a seven-time All-American at Indiana. His redshirt junior year of 2020-21 came with his second NCAA 3-meter title and his second win as Big Ten Diver of the Year.

Capobianco first paired with Hixon, an Indiana alum, late in 2018 after Dorman retired. They won the USA Diving Winter Trials soon after, and claimed the bronze at the 2019 Pan American Games. They also finished fourth last month at the World Cup.

"When I came to IU, I think that Drew [Johansen, the head diving coach] tried to model my diving around Michael’s a little bit, so when we did come together for synchro, the timing was actually pretty good," Capobianco said. "The biggest thing was learning how to dive synchro.

"I had never done synchro in the past, and coming in with your synchro partner being a silver medalist from the last Olympics was pretty crazy. He took me under his wing, and it’s been pretty special."

Capobianco is at least the second athlete with ties to Long Island to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Earlier this month, Kristine O'Brien, out of St. John the Baptist and Massapequa Park, made the U.S. rowing team.

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