Climbing 10 metres up then leaping off a ledge is intimidating for most people. Sports reporter Simon Smith talks with Nathan Brown about what it’s like up there on the diving board.
Photo Credit - Cordelai Norris
When Nathan Brown first scaled the top diving board it took him about 15 minutes to jump off. But fast-forward six years and the Henderson 15-year-old is top in the country for his age and doing well on the world stage.
This month Nathan came second diving from 10 metres at the 2015 Australian Elite Junior Championships. He also came 10th from 10m at the International Youth Diving Meet in Germany in April.
One of the things most people don’t appreciate about diving is the amount of work that goes into it, the Waitakere College student says.
Dives build on each other and it takes about 75 attempts to get good at a new one.
Nathan trains for three hours five days a week under Olympic coach Steve Gladding at West Wave Pool and Leisure Centre and says diving is harder than many people think.
He is focusing on making the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2020 Olympic Games.
‘‘There’s a lot of learning, proper shape and other stuff like how to jump properly on the board, take-offs and endings.’’ About half his time is spent down at the pool and the other half on dry land, including doing flips on to mats.
One of his favourite dives from 10m is the backwards half somersault, half twist, ending in a frontal position.
He has just mastered a reverse two-and-a-half somersaults in a tuck position from 3m. But all that training pays off once he climbs the ladder to compete.
"While I’m up there I don’t really think of anything.
‘‘My mind just goes blank and then once I go it all just comes to me.’’ It’s something to get right as diving can be dangerous, with the chance of hitting the board or falling badly.
"I have hitmyfoot which hurts, but if you hit your head you may die,’’ Nathan says.
Several years ago he landed flat on his back on the water and got some skeletal bruising. Even so, diving is a sport Nathan recommends to people who don’t have a fear of heights.
"It just takes that one brave step and then you have done it,’’ he says of his first jump.
‘‘I like the height and the adrenaline rush that you get."