Morrisville’s Jordan Windle and Holly Spring’s Andrew Copabianco will be diving in Russia this week.
Both recently earned trips to the FINA World Junior Championships in Penza, Russia. Windle, 15, and Copabianca, 14, train together. At the recent Junior Nationals in Knoxville, Tenn., Windle won four gold medals and a silver; Copabianco claimed three gold medals.
Both are sophomores – Windle studies through International Connections Academy (an accredited online school) and Copabianco attends Holly Springs High.
Both relocated with their families to the Triangle a little more than a year ago – Windle from Indiana and Copabianco from New York. The move was specifically to train with the Duke Diving Club directed by Duke coach Nunzio Esposto and his assistant, Katie Hazelton.
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Esposto’s credentials include coaching 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Nick McCory, a Duke and East Chapel Hill High alum.
“Moving here was the best thing that happened to me,” Windle said. “I had been progressing with my old coach, but Nunzio has taken me to the next level. Everything clicked when I started working with him.”
Added Copabianco: “The difference has been (Esposto) has more experience working with higher-end divers. We all work well together.”
At the Junior Nationals, Windle won 1- and 3-meter golds and a platform silver; his other two golds were in team synchronized diving.
His improvement included a gold medal a week later in the men’s 10-meter platform at the USA Diving AT&T Senior Nationals in Knoxville. He won by whopping 84.90 points, establishing him as a contender for the 2016 Olympic team. He was the only Junior National diver to claim a Senior National crown.
Jordan was 18 months old when Jerry Windle, a former Navy officer who served in Southeast Asia, adopted him from Cambodia. Jerry was a single father, but he and his partner Andres Rodriguez now raise Jordan.
Jordan was a second-grader when he discovered diving – or more accurately, diving discovered him – while he lived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. With the summer recreation clubs in his neighborhood full, he settled for an aquatics club.
One day Tim O’Brien, then working as a diving coach but not normally on the scene at the youth aquatics facility, noticed Jordan jumping in the pool. O’Brien had competed against four-time Olympic champion Greg Louganis at the same time his father, Ron O’Brien, trained Louganis.
“Tim stopped me in the parking lot one day when I picked up Jordan,” Jerry said. “I thought, ‘Uh oh, what’d he do?’ ”
Nothing but display spatial awareness and body flexibility that Tim told Jerry he hadn’t seen since Louganis.
Meanwhile, Copabianco was dedicated to gymnastics until four years ago when he attended a pool party and discussed diving with a diver. Before long his parents, Mike and Darlene, signed him and his brothers Matthew and Christian in a diving club.
“There are a lot of similarities with spatial awareness,” Andrew said. “But in gymnastics you have to have a lot of quick movements. In diving, you have to be patient and ride the board to get the maximum height. I didn’t want to give up gymnastics, but I realized my potential was in diving.”
Copabianco’s parents are retired police officers.
At the Junior Nationals, Copabianco swept gold in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform.
“Andrew and Jordan are good friends who work hard together,” Mike Copabianco said. “It’s great, two of the best divers in the country, and they’ll be battling each other for a long time.”