Olympic diver has medal, musical dreams

Thomas Finchum

An Olympic diving hopeful from Indiana hopes to make his next splash in the music industry.

Thomas Finchum is a diving veteran. The Beijing Olympian is now 22 years old and stands 6'1", which is tall for a diver, after unexpected teen growth spurt. Back in the day, he was a little guy and one of the youngest divers on the international circuit.

"I want to go to the Olympics and win," Finchum said in 2003.

At the time, he was in eighth grade and was thrilled when one judge awarded him a perfect 10 at the U.S. Diving National Championships.

"It was awesome. I thought it was good, but not that good. Not near perfect," he said at the time.

Finchum today remains earnest and enthusiastic as he focuses on his third Olympic trials.

"I left Beijing empty-handed and that's not what I want to do this time. I have big dreams, but I think they're possible," Finchum said.

He hopes to compete in London on Team USA in the individual ten-meter platform - that's the tall, three-story tower.

"There are three that really, honestly have the potential to medal at the Olympics and only two people can make it, so it's going to be a tough event," Finchum said of his competition at the trials.

To increase the odds at Olympic Trials, he's also adding springboard, a new event for Finchum.

"He's top four or five in the Nationals, with only practicing a month," Finchum said.

They are long days, 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., everyday but Sunday. But often, when the workout is over, rehearsal begins. The elite athlete is also an aspiring musician and lead singer of Northern Nights.

"He didn't tell us much of anything and the next thing we knew, he had a band," said Finchum's mother, Audrey.

It's a country crossover band with three musicians from Anderson University.

"We're all just pursuing this big dream together," Finchum said.

Eyewitness News caught them practicing at Finchum's alma mater, Lutheran High School.

"We'll practice sometimes for four or five hours, just because we're all perfectionists and trying to make everything perfect, so it's a little bit crazy," Finchum said.

And it's catching on.

The band posted a cover of Adele's hit "Somebody Like You" on YouTube and got 1,000 shares the first night. They credit Finchum's international audience.

"I never followed diving, but I do now. I do now!" said lead guitarist Brock Bell.

"It's just been crazy, because people who didn't know I sang have been coming up to me, asking me to sing the national anthem or something and it's cool, because we have people from all over the world who have bought our song," Finchum said.

Finchum wrote "Baby I'm Gone," which is currently for sale on iTunes.

"I'm mom, of course I love it," Audrey Finchum said. "But the 'Baby I'm Gone' song, I don't know if you've listened to that, it should be on the radio."

"Country music tells a story and, a lot of times, I'll go through something or I'll see something and it just inspires me to and I write a story and it just comes out being a country song," Finchum said.

The Olympian had time for songwriting while out of the pool, rehabbing from shoulder surgery. A diver from Duke University, Nick McCrory, assumed Finchum's synchronized spot with his longtime teammate, David Boudia of Noblesville.

"It hasn't been as easy. I've had to fight my way back up to the top," Finchum said. "I can't tell you how hard it is to come back from surgery."

Overcoming adversity was part of the story Finchum shared with journalists around the country last month at the U.S. Olympic Summit in Dallas. When word got out he could sing, he was asked to perform on the spot.

"That is probably the most awkward thing I've ever done in an interview in my life. I'm not going to lie," Finchum said.

But like a true champion, Finchum embraced the challenge and recognized the audience could help launch his next career.

"If people see him on TV or hear about him through the Olympics, they might check out YouTube videos or Facebook or iTunes or Twitter, so that helps spread the word," Bell said. "I think our sound will do the rest of it, if we can just get people to notice us, then I think our quality will sell us on people."

"I would rather people think, 'Oh, he's a talented singer,' not 'Oh, he is that diver who sings'," Finchum said.