Looking to make a bigger splash...
The ripples of last summer’s Olympic Games are still spreading, and with high-profile hunk Tom Daley starring on TV with cult celebrity sports show Splash! making an impact as well the complex sport of diving now has a higher profile than ever before.
With only two diving clubs left in Hertfordshire – the county could previously boast as many as 10 – the limited resources could become stretched as interest in the sport continues to grow.
It was, in part, the lack of facilities in the area which led Dacorum Diving Club’s most accomplished members to be spotted for an important role in Splash! – the celeb-studded show was filmed just up the road in Luton, where there is a brand new diving centre but a lack of experienced divers.
This was a big achievement for the club, as some of their adult divers were given the opportunity to showcase their talents either as celebrity stand-ins during rehearsals or as part of the stunt-dive teams live on air.
But it is the younger members of the club whose accomplishments have taken place behind the scenes.
More than 70 children attend the club’s diving sessions at Sportspace in Hemel Hempstead.
Ben Page, 15, son to head coach Roger, has competed in the elite junior championships which were previously graced by Olympic bronze-medallist Tom Daley as a competitor.
Roger, of Kings Langley, said of his son: “Ben is the first diver we’ve had who has competed at that level. It is great to have someone from this club achieving goals like that.
“Ben actually got me involved in the sport. When we started he was very young, about seven years old, and we took it up as a family.
“Since becoming head coach I have made it my goal to make us as competitive as we possibly can be.
“There is more fun to be had from diving if you are competing, particularly at a high level.”
Ben also finished fourth in the final of the diving Armada Cup, beating two very experienced and established elite level divers, with a list that included two new dives. He received his award from Tom Daley himself.
Another of Dacorum’s diving prodigies is 11-year-old Matthew Riley, who has been diving for two and a half years and is already a national champion in his age category.
He swum away with the silver medal in the Southampton invitational competition last year.
But Roger fears that with his youth diving club already nearing full capacity, more future competitors could be slipping through the net.
He said: “It is a case of facilities. Sadly, many pools seem to get rid of their diving pits at the first opportunity.
“It is so important that we have a diving club in Hemel Hempstead because when a child says they want to take up the sport, parents want to be able to take them to their local pool to do it.
“For all we know there are more Tom Daleys out there but we may never find them because there aren’t enough clubs like this in Hertfordshire.”
The team at Sportspace still hope to offer new opportunities, despite being one of the few remaining diving clubs in the county.
It is hoped that with the renewed interest in the sport, enough adult divers could be recruited for a brand new senior team.
Sportspace Aquaspace manager Jo Bevil-Gahan said: “We have been inundated with interest in diving since last summer and it has gone mad since Splash! has been on the television.
“Diving is a great new activity for adults as well as children so we would love to get more adults learning to dive.
“Diving is not only a physical activity but it can be mentally tough too, so it is great for someone looking for a new challenge.”
If you are interested in learning to dive, call Jo on 01442 507159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adult diving courses or sessions may be offered if numbers are high enough.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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