Get Active: Diving in to an active lifestyle with a twist
PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 March 2015 | UPDATED: 08:34 31 March 2015
I came second in a Girl Guides swimming gala once, so when the chance arose to have a lesson at the Tom Daley Diving Academy, I bravely nominated myself.
Surely diving, which I learned in my lessons for a quick race start, would be like riding a bike and it would all come back to me? Not quite.
My naïve bubble burst within moments of arriving at the London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. According to David Jenkins, the academy’s diving development lead coach, you lose the skill rather quickly.
David started me with a warm up of jogging, skipping and forward rolls and I wondered if I’d signed up for gymnastics.
My first mission was to master three basic shapes (pike, tuck and straight) in the dry dive area. The tuck required bringing my knees to my chest and touching my shins. For the pike, I had to put my legs straight in front of me and touch my toes (or shins again for me).
The dry dive is like an adult play pit. A 1.5m “pool” of foam cubes, it’s used by diving squads that train at the centre and, occasionally, by academy members.
It provides an area to safely practice diving but trying to clamber out of it was as tough as learning the shapes.
Finally, David was brave enough to let me into the pool.
After completing a straight and a tuck to an ok standard, and after being told I was more natural in the water than the foam, I ruined it by doing what I can only describe as a “bum-flop”. I practically sat on the water.
When it came to the “real” dives, David was a great coach and made tipping head first into the water less scary. After a couple of attempts, I even did a dive worthy of a high-five.
Earlier, David had mentioned how a fellow reporter once refused to go past the 3m so when the 5m board was suggested, I had something to prove. The jump may not have gone well but I took it as a victory nonetheless.
The academy has been running since last March and its Learn to Dive programme is aimed at children and adults. Already it has 468 members – the youngest just four-years-old.
David said: “One of the boys arrived for his lesson today and Tom Daley walked past and said ‘hi’. It’s great for the kids.”
The hope is for the academy to turn out the next generation of professional divers (and hopefully find a new Tom Daley).
David added: “If they get to the top levels, divers could be invited into the Dive London Aquatic club – Tom is a member.”
It looks like there’s hope for me yet then.