Jack Laugher: ‘Joining a club was one of the best decisions of my entire life’

Team GB’s most successful diver Jack Laugher says joining a club was one of the best decisions of his life.

The 26-year-old reflected on his earliest diving memory, his first coach and how he got into the sport as he discussed his journey from grassroots to becoming Olympic and Commonwealth champion.

After learning to swim at three years old, Laugher joined his first club at the age of seven, Harrogate District Diving Club in North Yorkshire.

“I was taken to The Hydro Swimming Pool by my mum when I was seven years old,” he said.

“And a lifeguard saw me diving off the side and basically said ‘do you want to give it a crack up there on the boards? And do you want to join the diving club?’

“Obviously I knew nothing about diving at that age, but it looked fun and it was fun, so I started and I’ve absolutely loved it every day since.

“My earliest diving memory is probably when I must have been about seven or eight years old and I was competing at my first ever competition in Halifax.

“I didn’t do that great, but it was really interesting to start competing and actually open my eyes to the world of diving.”

Laugher admits he wouldn’t be where he is today without his hometown club, Harrogate.

“My first club was a really small grassroots club,” he said. “We didn’t have any dryland facility – we had just a 5m, two 3m’s and a 1m.

“That was all we had, yet it was the drive and the determination and the passion of the coaches that really propelled me to where I am now.

“They helped me with the fundamentals and the basics of diving and got me to a really strong place – I even managed to become the best at my age group in the world at this tiny little club with no dryland.

“So they really worked hard with me. They knew I had talent and they had a plan as well, for me and my future. I couldn’t thank them enough and, honestly, I wouldn’t be here without them.”

‘Sensational, supportive and brilliant’

Laugher’s first coach, Eileen Fox, played an important role in his development in particular.

“My very first coach was a lovely lady called Eileen Fox, she’s unfortunately passed away, but she was absolutely sensational,” Jack added.

“She was really supportive of the children and she got to see me progress through the sport and was even around to see me win my first junior world medal.

“She was a brilliant coach and it was really special to have that memory with her.”

The decorated diver had a message for those thinking about joining a club… “Just go for it!”

He continued: “It’s such a great thing not only for your physical health but your mental wellbeing as well. The fact that you’re surrounded by other people, other athletes, motivating people – it’s a really fun place to be as well.

“Diving’s an extremely social sport because there’s a lot of waiting around, waiting for the boards, only one person can go at a time so you’re always talking and chatting. I made loads of friends through diving when I was younger.

“For me, joining a club was one of the best decisions of my entire life and it’s kept me on the straight and narrow ever since.”