Senior staff writer
Southside native and 2008 USA Olympic diver Thomas Finchum realizes that pursuing his career as a singer is just as mentally demanding as diving from a 10-meter platform.
Finchum stepped away from the sport in June 2012 to pursue a career as a country singer in Nashville, Tenn., where he resides.
The Lutheran High School graduate and member of the RipTide diving program had an outstanding career. He began diving competitively at 9.
He placed fifth in men’s 10-meter synchronized diving with David Boudia at the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2007 Finchum won four national titles and was named USA Diving’s Athlete of the Year. He and Boudia earned silver (2009) and bronze (2007) medals at the World Championships.
At 14 he was runner-up in platform diving, but a U.S. Olympic committee rules change provided for only the Olympic trials champion to go to the Olympics in Athens.
“I don’t miss the early practices, but I do miss the competition,” Finchum told The Southsider Voice. “I had dedicated all my time to diving. I still love the sport. It was definitely exciting and an honor to represent the USA in the Olympics.”
Finchum is just as fervent about his music career. “My passion now is my music,” the 26-year-old singer/songwriter said. “I am 100 percent dedicated to this just as I was 100 percent dedicated to diving. It is similar because I’m practicing, setting goals and performing.
“You have to be mentally prepared to do both. The big difference is being on stage as a musician you are interacting with your audience. In diving, someone could be 15 feet away from you and you’re so focused on diving that you don’t notice anyone.”
He returned home last week to be part of the Olympic Trials by singing the national anthem before the men’s 10-meter synchronized finals Thursday at the Indian University Natatorium at IUPUI and two concerts at the Road to Rio Tour stage Friday on Monument Circle. He congratulated former Olympic synchronized diving partner Boudia after qualifying June 23 for his third Olympics with partner Steele Johnson.
“It was a great experience to sing in front of my parents, family, friends and especially those competitors in the Olympic Trials,” Finchum said. “They made it special because I try to tell stories through my songs. And it was the biggest venue where I’ve performed so far.”
His parents are Audrey and Tom Finchum, the longtime athletic director at Lutheran who recently retired as the Saints basketball coach.