Spirits were high and the splashes were higher at Glenfield Pool and Leisure Centre recently as members and friends of Auckland Diving joined with the local community to break in the new one-metre and three-metre diving boards that were recently installed at the centre.
Glenfield pool is home to one of only two facilities in Auckland that are appropriate for springboard and platform diver training. The closure of the dive well between February and April was the latest in a series of training disruptions for Auckland’s divers. Over the past 18 months both of the city’s diving pools have been shut down at various times due to maintenance issues, Covid lockdowns and Auckland’s water shortage. However, under the leadership of Auckland Diving’s head coach, Steve Gladding, the coaching staff were able to come up with creative methods to keep diver morale high and training sessions going, even when the boards were unavailable.
“It’s a testament to the culture of our two clubs, North Harbour Diving and Diving Waitakere, our members and our great young coaches that, despite a range of setbacks, our divers are continuing to make fantastic progress,” says Steve Gladding, who credits diving for helping to foster that resilience. “Diving is all about overcoming challenging situations and what we do on the boards helps build a mindset that can be really useful in all aspects of life; that’s why we love to see people giving diving a go whether it’s competitively or recreationally.”
Auckland Diving is on a mission to encourage more people to try diving by making it more accessible through its school diving programmes and community initiatives. The event at Glenfield was held during a public session and was open to anyone who wanted to join in.
“We thought it was a great way to celebrate the new boards. The staff at Glenfield Pool and Leisure Centre were brilliant at helping us to organise the event and supporting us on the day, and we could see they were also enjoying watching the fun being had. We’re grateful to Auckland Council for investing in the boards, so that our divers and the Glenfield community can continue to use the dive well knowing the equipment is safe.”
Sunday’s session was not a typical Auckland Diving event, with participants being encouraged to pull out some crazy shapes and make some big splashes as they launched themselves off the boards.
Following the event, divers returned their focus to training for upcoming competitions including the Auckland Schools Champs at West Wave Pool and Leisure Centre on 20 May. With the addition of a separate Intermediate Schools competition this year, as well as the Secondary Schools event, it was the largest schools event to date with more than 75 competitors representing 24 Auckland schools.
“We’ve changed the format to enable more schools and divers to enter the competition this year and added an intermediate category. It’s exciting to see this competition grow,” commented Auckland Diving's School Development Officer, Ellie Price.
Albany Junior High School was the overall winner of the Intermediate Schools competition, followed by Ponsonby Intermediate in second place and Northcross Intermediate in third. The Secondary Schools event was won by the combined efforts of Albany Junior High and Albany Senior High, for the ninth consecutive year, with Westlake Girls High School second, and Diocesan School third.
Price works with Auckland schools that want to develop diving as part of their sporting repertoire. Auckland Diving also runs a one-day Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) programme for schools that includes sessions with Olympic coaches and athletes, as well as giving students the opportunity to challenge themselves and try something new.
Steve Gladding has coached all levels from beginners to Olympic medalists and is thrilled at the prospect of more people taking up the sport. He believes New Zealand divers will continue to make gains on the international diving scene.
“New Zealand is brimming over with potential for this sport, and we’ve got some incredibly talented young divers coming through, some of whom may have never considered trying diving but have given it a go through one of our school programmes or tried it because their friends were doing it,” he said.
The country’s young divers are finding inspiration from watching home-grown athletes compete on the world stage, including at the recent Diving World Cup in Tokyo, where Wellington divers Nathan Brown and Anton Down-Jenkins showed what New Zealand has to offer. Down-Jenkins came away from the event having qualified for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics, joining previously qualified Auckland diver, Lizzie Cui.
Note: Auckland Diving is administered by the Auckland Diving Community Trust (ADCT). This is a not-for-profit organisation that works with Auckland's two diving clubs, North Harbour Diving and Diving Waitakere to provide professionally run springboard and platform diving classes. Divers range from those who are brand new to the sport, through to athletes competing at major international events including the Olympics. Diving is a fun, dynamic and unique sport which helps develop agility, strength, coordination and deep water confidence. Our divers come from varied backgrounds including gymnastics, cheer-leading, rugby players, kids who enjoy jumping off wharfs and pool sides, and those who just love to be in the water. Classes are suitable for people from five years through to adult, provided participants can comfortably swim in deep water.
For more information, visit: https://www.aucklanddiving.co.nz/