Diving programmes see ‘spike in interest’ following Commonwealth Games

Following Team England’s best-ever medal haul of 15 at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, diving programmes have seen a surge in interest, particularly in the West Midlands.

Their achievements have gone a long way to help Swim England’s West Midlands Diving Strategy, which aims to provide a long-lasting diving programme in the region.

Following the triumph of the Games, Olympian and Swim England West Midlands diving development officer, Sarah Barrow, gives an update on the scheme and the plans following Birmingham 2022.

She explained that Team England’s strong performance, coupled with the excitement around the brand new Sandwell Aquatics Centre, has seen more people in the West Midlands as well as all around the country wanting to get involved in the sport.

Sarah said: “There has been a clear spike in interest, a lot of people are asking when the centre will open to the public.

“Diving programmes in the West Midlands are running extra sessions to be able to fill the interest. It is great to see diving participation in the West Midlands, it’s a great opportunity to get involved.

“People have been inspired by the fact it was a home Games and the diving was accessible to watch whether in the Aquatics Centre or on the television, however, the medal haul was over the medal target meaning it was the most successful diving team ever at a Commonwealth Games!

“This was an objective of the Inspire22 strategy which the West Midlands Diving Strategy is included in.

“It helps to meet an objective to show partners diving is a thriving sport where success is achievable in any of the diving centres around the country.”

‘Success breeds success’

Team England topped the diving medal table in Birmingham with six golds, four silvers and five bronze medals over the five days inside the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

Barrow believes it shows that the sport is on the rise in this country.

She added: “People see that diving is fun and sociable, you can see that when watching the team. There was a real buzz around the personalities in diving.

“Success breeds success and to be seen is to be heard, all of the divers work incredibly hard along with their coaches to be the best they can be.

“Tom Daley gave the team the confidence that with hard work, drive and perseverance, medals can be won. When Team England were bringing back medals from the pool, it gave divers more motivation to do the same.

“Younger divers in the clubs where the Team England divers train will be watching thinking that’s where they want to be and questioning, how do we get there? And now they can go back and work hard to make that happen.”

She believes that England and Great Britain’s rise in the diving ranks is down to the hard work of everyone involved in the sport and is confident of more success in the future.

“British Diving are in a strong position, because we have some of the best coaches in the world.

“Upcoming divers see what it takes to get to the top and effectively copy the senior divers, like Anthony (Harding – 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist) said ‘I am copying the smart kid’s homework at school’.

“Tom has left this lasting legacy where Britain are striving to be the best at what they can do and I do think in Paris and beyond we will continue to excel. We have just had the most successful team at a Junior and Senior Europeans this year too.”

What happens next in the West Midlands?

 The strategy that Swim England have put together goes up until 2025, this is to oversee the legacy and implementation of a full pathway of diving lessons in the centre.

Barrow, the West Midlands Diving development officer, is positioned to work with Sandwell Council and partners to employ a head coach and talent development coach.

These positions will go out in September and February with recruitment of learn to dive coaches in April.

The coaches will provide the lessons but take on the diving programme to make it sustainable for years to come.

Lessons will be inclusive and available to all, including adults. There will also be the Sandwell Diving Club where divers will be able to compete and go away to competitions.

Barrow thinks now is the perfect time to get into diving and encourages everyone to get involved.

“Having available sessions to everyone is pivotal to a successful diving programme from learn to dive right through to elite diving.

“Now is a great time to get involved so find your local diving club or learn to dive programme and just have a go. You can continue to do it recreationally or you may even be talent spotted in to the next generation of divers!”