By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Experienced divers make it look easy to flip and twist through the air and enter the pool with minimal splash.
But there’s months and years of hard work and diligence that goes into making a dive look effortless.
They’ll also have the chance to perform in new events, including the first-ever team diving event at these games.
Dallas Ludwick, Team Toba Diving Head Coach, is glad the athletes have this exciting national event on their radar.
“I personally believe that the Canada Games is one of the most exciting events for young athletes.”
New Dive Events in Niagara
Divers will represent Manitoba at Brock University’s Eleanor Misener Aquatics Centre in the following events for men and women:
- Individual one-metre springboard
- Individual three-metre springboard
- Individual platform
- Artistic event (new)
Kicking things off is the artistic event, where, as Dallas describes it, the athletes perform more simple dives that can’t exceed a certain amount of difficulty, and perform them really beautifully.
There’s also the team event, which will make its debut at these games, where who on the team does which dive is up to each province.
“We haven’t had a team event at the Canada Games before. In the past, we’ve [had] synchronized events, but we’re not doing those here,” said Dallas. “With the team event, there’s a lot of flexibility with how many divers make that team, and who does what, and each province can play their strategy differently. So it’ll be really interesting to see how it pans out.”
Team Toba’s selection process for the four males and four females is set, and once chosen, the team event will be put together from those eight divers. Stay tuned!
How Do Divers Train?
A typical day in diving training is partially dryland and partially in the water.
At the Pan Am Pool, Dallas said the divers have trampolines, diving boards and platforms onto mats, and a bouncy floor in the dryland training room.
“The warm-up takes place in there, meaning regular activation [and] getting the body ready to perform. We work on things like flexibility and of course, strength. There’s a lot of core work involved in diving, but lower body and upper body as well.”
They also work on their technical skills, including on the trampoline where they’ll refine their acrobatics and positions. Some athletes also have access to a strength and conditioning coach to maximize their speed and strength.
When it comes to learning a brand new dive, it’s about starting from square one.
“We actually have a belt, which is like a harness they go into and the coach pulls them, so they’re able to perform the skills with no risk. We have a number of progressions for every single dive that they work on in the dryland room,” said Dallas. “So it’s really a build. We go through some of that basic stuff, like flexibility, warm-up, strength, etc., building towards the technical in the dryland room, and then of course they get into the water where you bring all the parts together and work on the diving.”
When Motivation is Greater Than Fear
Standing on the edge of a diving board or platform can be intimidating, perhaps even scary for many.
“Diving is a very mental sport, as you can imagine,” said Dallas. “There’s a lot of fear involved and getting over that fear. There’s an element of fear management, but to me, it’s more if your motivation is greater than your fear, then that’s where you’re able to proceed.”
Dallas works with the divers to build up their confidence, making sure they believe in their abilities, and that they remember they have done all the progressions and taken all the steps to try something new.
“Of course it will always be scary that first time, it’ll be scary the first 10 times. In fact, some dives are scary forever. But you feel prepared. You feel like you’re ready to try,” said Dallas.
And the reward of overcoming the nerves and executing a fantastic dive can be a powerful tool.
“Athletes at the higher levels learn that that feeling afterwards is so gratifying. Sometimes when they can remind themselves of that beforehand, how good it’s going to feel afterwards, that can be a good motivator, too,” said Dallas.
Team Toba Takeaways
These Canada Summer Games will be a unique experience for many reasons. For participants across the country, it’ll be an opportunity to compete and get together after some challenging years in sport.
“I do think this one is a little bit special in that we have been through some hard times,” said Dallas. “The Manitoba athletes, in particular, have not had the opportunity to train as much as their competitors across many other provinces.”
“I hope that they see this as a celebration of being back, [of] being back at it, and that every opportunity they get—inside the pool, outside the pool—that they embrace it.”
Ken Stevens, Dive Manitoba Executive Director, said the Games are an exceptional national event that promote sport and competition, as well as creating friendships across the nation.
“Enjoy not only the competitions, but also all the social aspects of the Games. And head out and cheer on other Team Manitoba teammates in other sports. But most importantly, take in the entire experience. Do your best and have fun!” said Ken.
Dallas compares the Canada Summer Games energy to the Commonwealth Games and other major games she’s attended as a coach.
“They get to rub shoulders with other athletes from their province [and] from other provinces,” said Dallas. “I just think it’s a really nice celebration of sport.”
Motivation for Future Opportunities
Dallas believes this event serves a dual role as a motivator and reward.
“By the time the athletes get to this level, they’ve put in a lot of time into their sport. Making that team, I think first and foremost, is a great reward. You’ve made it, you get this amazing opportunity, and you get to represent your province. So I hope they take away a lot of pride in that and it’s something they get to celebrate and feel good about,” said Dallas. “At the same time, for those who are looking to continue their journey beyond, I hope they come out of it motivated to keep working and keep progressing to experience similar things even on a bigger scale.”
Ken agrees it can lead to other opportunities.
“The Canada Summer Games provides exceptional sport and competitive opportunities for young athletes. It is an exciting and much-anticipated event on the diving schedule in Manitoba. Canada Summer Games is a launchpad and sets the stage for Manitoba divers as they continue in their diving careers and [as they] compete at Junior and Senior National Championships,” said Ken.