Aug. 13, 2004
By Stephanie Berlin Daily Texan
AUSTIN, Texas (U-WIRE) - Two years ago at the NCAA Championships in Georgia, the entire University of Texas men's swimming and diving team stood on the first-place podium. Among them were Justin and Troy Dumais, two brothers whose spectacular dives helped Texas win its ninth national title.
The two stood with their team on the podium, horns held proudly in the air.
"They were enjoying that moment as a team," Texas men's and women's diving coach Matt Scoggin recalled. "Not as brothers or individuals, but as a team. That was a great day."
On Aug. 16, the Dumais brothers will try and reach the top podium once again, this time in Athens and, this time around, as their own two-man team. Justin and Troy are taking their talents to the 2004 Olympics together in the men's synchronized springboard final.
The pair began diving as a result of their parent's desire to travel.
"Basically, their dad and I wanted our children to learn to swim, so that on vacation, they'd be safe," their mother, Kathy, said.
Altogether, five Dumais children excelled at swimming, but it was Troy who jumped first. The family had to travel great distances so that he could train. Eventually, Kathy ruled that the rest of the clan had to learn to dive as well or sit and watch with her and husband Marc.
Choosing the former, Justin quickly followed in his brother's footsteps. The duo started out diving in individual events and, because they are so close in age, often competed against one another.
"When they were competing, they would cheer for each other," Kathy said. "But when it came to practice, they probably got on each other's nerves. The coaches said there would be some pushing and shoving, but they never hurt one another."
Justin and Troy began diving together in the synchronized events when they arrived at Texas. Prior to that, Troy was never very involved in synchronized diving because he made international teams in his individual events.
But changing politics in Olympic selection prompted Troy to make the switch. By earning a spot on the synchronized team, he also grabbed a 3-meter springboard slot.
Even though they were diving for the same team, the competition between the brothers could still be seen.
"They would watch each other dive," Scoggin said. "It was a healthy thing. They wanted to outperform each other. It pushed them to do better."
During their tenure at the university, Troy won four straight 3-meter springboard national titles, and Justin became the first Longhorn to be named Verizon All-American of the Year First Team and overall champion in 2002.
The Dumais brothers didn't slow down once they left college, either. They have won numerous awards since and took gold in the 3-meter synchronized event at the Grand Prix at the Woodlands in May 2004.
But the rise to the top hasn't always been easy. Justin, who had been ill since early November, just recently became healthy enough to train for the Olympics.
"He lost his energy," Kathy said. "Blood tests showed his thyroid was a little high, and they started treating that. It turned out he was poisoning himself with aspartame."
Aspartame, which can be found in everything from diet drinks to protein shakes, is a popular artificial sweetener. Doctors found that Justin was very sensitive to the sweetener, and once he stopped using it, his health vastly improved.
Justin then participated in several events, including the World Cup, with little or no training beforehand. He trained for just two weeks before the 10-meter springboard Olympic trials and came in third, good enough for a spot on the U.S. team.
Family, friends and coaches all said that they foresee the duo doing very well in Athens.
"They'll do the best in synchro," said former Texas teammate Jonathan Linette. "Troy and Justin on the springboard are really good; they train together every day. I think they have a good chance at winning a medal."
Kathy said that as long as the brothers perform all five of their required dives well, they will definitely be standing on the winner's podium.
"I would love to see them do five solid dives in synchro, and whatever happens, happens," she said. "Five solid dives, to me, would be glorious."
Troy and Justin will also bring experience and personality to this year's U.S. Olympic diving team, which also includes former Longhorn Laura Wilkinson.
"Justin is more serious and focused," said Linette. "Troy is a little goofy when we're not in the pool training. He's always joking around. He's only serious when he's up on the board."
Meanwhile, even the spirit of the Olympic Games can't stop the sibling rivalry.
"Everyone on the team is exceptional," Scoggin said. "The only thing separating those two from the rest of the team is that they're brothers and competitors, and when they're diving together, I would guess that they're still trying to out-dive one another. Not that they'd admit to it."
Two other former Longhorn divers also will be in Athens this month. Katura Horton-Perinchief will compete for Bermuda on the 3-meter springboard, and Vera Ilyina will compete for Russia on the synchronized 3-meter springboard.
©2004 Daily Texan via U-WIRE.