The success of Tom Daley at the 2012 Olympics and the recent TV show Splash have inspired many primary school children to aspire to become high divers. The number seeking instruction at one Edinburgh pool has trebled from less than 150 last year to over 500.
Mandie Arthur, the Commonwealth Pool’s dive coach is quoted by the Scotsman as saying: “The children coming in are telling us they saw diving on TV and want to be the next Daley. They are full of confidence and have no fear of the diveboards, and they all want to leap off from 10 metres from the word go. I have one four-year-old who is able to dive in from the five-metre board. It’s amazing.”
The big problem we now face is a lack of facilities available for our eager youngsters. Children make up the greater percentage of swimmers in the UK with more than 50% less than 12 years of age (Hung Out to Dry Swimming and British Culture page 34). During the ‘golden age’ of swimming every pool had diving facilities yet following the publication in 1988 of the Health and Safety Commission’s ‘Safety in Swimming Pools’, tighter controls were imposed throughout the United Kingdom and many authorities closed their diving boards. Divers and jumpers that dare use piers and quaysides (simply because there is now little else available) have suffered a negative press being branded as tombstoners. However the desire to dive like Tom Daley is an enduring phenomenon. It seems that the nation’s children are truly inspired so now it is up to the Swimming community to respond to this exciting new enthusiasm for diving.