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This Pair Of Divers Gets It, Together

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By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 4, 2008

BEIJING, Aug. 3 -- U.S. divers Kelci Bryant and Ariel Rittenhouse have been around each other so much over the past two years, training full time at the National Training Center in Indianapolis, that the teenagers know each other's darkest secrets -- some of which they share. Asked to reveal what they've learned about each other, Bryant looked at her synchronized diving partner and said, "She's going to hate me, but she has hair extensions."

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Then, Bryant looked around, rubbed her blond locks and confessed, "I do, too."

Rittenhouse then exposed Bryant's obsession with getting the perfect tan before adding, "We both have a tanning addiction."

Bryant joked that hers is more severe. "I'm a tanorexic."

Bryant, 19, and Rittenhouse, 17, are set to make their Olympic debuts, as their event -- three-meter synchronized diving -- kicks off the diving competition at the "Water Cube" on Aug. 10. The duo already is familiar with the facility, after winning the bronze medal at the FINA Diving World Cup in Beijing in February.

"It was definitely good, medaling and getting the bronze against the same people that are going to be here, but that's in the past," said Bryant, who plans to attend the University of Miami in the fall. "We have a new goal and we're going to focus on that and hopefully get a new medal and take it back to the states."

Bryant, Rittenhouse and 19-year-old David Boudia (10-meter), who also trains at the National Training Center, were the only three Americans to medal at the World Cup and offer some of the best hope for a U.S. team that failed to get any individual medals in 2004 in Athens.

This is the first time since 1996 that the United States will have maximum diving participation in the Olympics. The Americans have the maximum two individual spots per event, providing the depth that U.S. Coach John Wingfield hopes will allow his team to perform well in a competition that China is expected to dominate.

Rittenhouse's mother, Sharon, is in the International Swimming Hall of Fame and won a silver medal in swimming in 1964. Her uncle, Mike Finneran, dived at the 1972 Olympics.

Sharon Rittenhouse and Bryant's mother, Kathie, encouraged their daughters to move from their respective homes in Santa Cruz, Calif., and Chatham, Ill., to train together with Wenbo Chen, a native of Guangdong province in China and a graduate of Beijing Sports University. Both athletes live in Indianapolis with their mothers and were home-schooled.

"They really add the dream. Veteran athletes look at them and say, 'Wow, that's what we had,' " Wingfield said of his young team. "It's focus and it's desire. They wanted full-time type training. For them to take advantage of that and move in, kudos to them."

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