World's best divers in Dubai

FINA/NVC Diving World Series 2014 coming to the UAE

Tom Roberts
Tom Roberts

As the FINA/NVC Diving World Series 2014 arrives, Benita Adesuyan catches up with DuDive Diving Club.

The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex (HSC) is an impressive structure, just off Umm Suqeim Street. Away from the bustle of the city it’s a bright blue beacon of aqua activity. In fact, at 24 hectares, it is the largest sports aquatic centre in the world and it is due to host to the FINA/NVC Diving World Series 2014, from Thursday March 20 to Saturday March 22; three days of solo and synchronised springboard diving that will see the world’s most agile purveyors of the sport make a splash at the venue.

Thanks to the Olympic Games and popular sports personalities such as Britain’s Tom Daley, interest in springboard diving has increased, and the 20 boards at the sports complex are getting much more action, thanks in part to Tom Roberts and his DuDive club. Roberts, 22, started the club just two years ago, and at that point, DuDive was the first springboard diving club in the UAE. He’s happy to report he’s seen participation in the sport soar ever since.

‘I started with 50 kids, and now there’s over 200. In a place where swimming is not big for local people, to develop something like this has been hard work but it is very successful. Now we’re taking children overseas to compete, so word is certainly now getting around.’

Roberts, originally from Wales, is a former international gymnast, who turned to diving after a number of injuries hampered his gymnastics career. Seeing an opportunity to develop springboard diving in Dubai, he set up DuDive and now teaches children and adults. He has also recently become the UAE diving coach and will be implementing projects to find young athletes to represent the UAE.

Roberts admits it was initially a challenge getting people to understand what the sport is about. ‘People often think when you say diving you mean scuba diving – no one actually knew what springboard and platform diving really was here.’ Springboard diving is a technical sport and there’s much more to it than just bombing off a platform into the pool. It requires strength and flexibility, and divers have to perform a sequence of gymnastic shapes as they dive, landing neatly and safely in the pool.

The diving pool at HSC is 5m deep, which is the legal requirement, with platforms at 10m, 7.5m, 5m, 3m and 1m. ‘If you make a perfect dive, you’re going to hit the floor quite hard. You’re reaching speeds of 80km when you hit the water – if you were in a car driving at 80km/per hour – the distance it takes to stop is probably about 10m, we have 5m to stop, so we teach from day one techniques on how to protect yourself.

Water is hard when you hit it wrong.’

Springboard diving takes a lot of courage, just standing at the top of the 10m platform can be frightful, yet Roberts has started teaching children as young as two-years-old how to float and do tumbles in the water, and he believes that being confident and safe in the water is the building block. ‘We just get them doing forward rolls in the water – that’s how a summersault from a 10m board starts. The earlier I can get them, the better. It’s one of my favourite classes to teach.’
FINA/NVC Diving World Series 2014, Thursday March 20-Saturday March 22. From Dhs20. Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex, off Dubai Bypass Road. (04 306 2666). DuDive diving club is held at the same venue, Dhs65. Classes daily. (055 645 8478).

So what makes a good dive exactly?

If you are heading down to Hamdan Sports Complex to watch all the action, here’s what to look for in a top-scoring dive.

• Minimal splash. Known as the ‘rip entry’, judges will look for very little splash after the diver enters the pool. When the diver hits the water with hands above their head, it creates a bubble of air and as the diver opens their arms round to the side it creates a suction so the splash comes up and gets sucked back into that hole.

• Fulfilling the requirements. If it says on the board it’s a forward 3.5 summersault in a tuck position – and the diver does that, and hits the water on target – they’ll get a good score.

• Good shape in the air – body position and using the different shapes.

• Level of difficulty. It takes 1.8 seconds to hit the water from a 10m board so the more somersaults and twists they can fit in, the higher the score.

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