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Diving into sport
THERE has been a massive surge in budding divers taking the plunge in Swindon following the success of the London 2012 Olympics.
The Phoenix Diving club was inundated with phone calls after Tom Daley won bronze for Great Britain in the 10-metre platform last summer and membership numbers have since swelled to 60.
Irene Aldridge, club coach, said: “We’re still working through the waiting list – there was a massive surge of interest because of the Olympics. More and more children and adults are learning to dive, which is brilliant.”
Mrs Aldridge, 61, of Highworth, first became involved with diving when her daughter Kate, now 33, was captivated by the sport after watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
She said: “Kate really wanted to learn to do it properly, so she joined the club, then known as Thamesdown Diving Club, based in Wroughton, and carried on into her teenage years."
The club trains on Monday evenings at Highworth Rec, which has a one metre spring board and three metre platform.
Among the club's successes is Catherine Johnson, 21, who was headhunted by an American coach and won a four year scholarship at the University of North Texas.
“I’m in my final year now. It has been such an amazing experience and it all started in Swindon,” said Catherine. “I had the pleasure of being coached by Irene with the club, as she took me all across the country.
“The club itself has gone from strength to strength and is continually growing, priding itself on catering to any ability and now with their adult programme, any age of student. The coaches are amongst the friendliest of people with a real enthusiasm and flair for diving.
“To anyone who is looking for a new adventure or a new sport to try, come and give it a go. I promise you will have a great time and meet some wonderful people along the way!”
There are lots of younger divers who hope to reach similar heights. For example six-year-old Charlie, who competed in his first competition in Reading this summer.
Charlie’s mum Rachel Roger, a gymnastics coach, said: “He watched the Olympics last summer on TV and loved it. So we looked into clubs and got him on the waiting list. Charlie has no fear and really looks forward to practice sessions. We were so proud when he came fourth in his first competition and it’s great to see him getting so much enjoyment out of diving."
Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, said: “We’re really fortunate to have so many thriving clubs in the borough with committed people, like Irene, who are really passionate about helping others develop their skills and achieve their very best.”
The Phoenix Diving club has a waiting list, but you can register your interest by emailing Irene at firstname.lastname@example.org
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