This week Vicki Tomlinson tells us about a day in her life as a diving coach and how it feels to watch her athletes compete in top level competitions.
Its 05.30 am on a dark, freezing cold December morning at my alarm goes off. I just want to go back to sleep but then I feel a sudden wave of excitement because I remember it’s the morning of our biggest Scottish Diving event of the year so far – An event I’ve been looking forward to for months!
Three coffees and a short train journey later I make it into work where I can begin the day. The event is taking place at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh – the same pool that hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games back in the summer. It’s one of the best diving facilities in the UK and has recently been refurbished so it can host such events. I am so lucky because I get to work there every single day in my role as an Edinburgh Diving Club coach however I still get very excited at big events like this!
I have 7 Novice divers all competing at various times over the next few days and I’m also looking after GB international diver James Heatly who I used to coach a few years ago. James has represented his country at various international competitions with his best result to date being a Bronze medal in the World Junior Championships and of course representing Scotland at the Commonwealth games. I’m very much looking forward to seeing his performances this weekend – it will be a good indicator on how his winter training is going and what he has to work on for the 2015 season.
My first event is the boys 10/11 event and I have two boys competing, Eddie and Alistair. The boys have been working exceptionally hard for months to perfect their dives. Hours of training in the gym and repeated practices in the pool all come together at events like these and make it all worthwhile. The boys dive to the best of their ability and come 8th and 13th. I’m always really proud of my divers, wherever they end up, as I know just how much effort they put in to get there! Eddie told me he was really nervous about one of his dives – but you would not be able to tell because it was executed very well!
Diving is one of those sports where anything can happen on the day. You can have all the preparation in the world – and then anything can happen on the day both good and bad. That’s why I find it so exciting!
Next up is James in the highboard event. James is usually a springboard diver – however he has started introducing platform into his list again. He’s recently learned a couple of big new dives from the 10 metre platform and I have to say he looks pretty good up there! After a nice steady prelim – James finishes in first place and qualifies for the final later on tonight.
Following on from James is my 8/9 year old girls. Myself and Mary (the other lady I coach with in Edinburgh) have 10 divers in this event so we are going to be kept very busy! The girls all have to compete 6 dives – two dives from the poolside, two choice dives from the one metre and two line ups from the three metre springboard. There are around 40 divers in this competition so there is a long wait in between each dive. To keep the divers occupied focused and warm we run through drills, practices and run through. It really helps the divers to run through and mentally prepare what they are doing before performing in front of a big audience. I find it interesting to see how each diver copes with their nerves – some are very chatty and just want to talk and play whereas others seem nervous and like sit on their own to think and reflect. It’s up to me as a coach to get to know each individual diver and how they cope in a competition environment. As a diver myself I was one of the nervous ones so I can definitely relate to those butterfly feelings! The girls finish their competition and are all stood together in the showers waiting nervously for their results. They all clap and cheer as each of their names are read out. It’s lovely to see how good friends they are despite the competition aspect. Our top result was a Bronze medal for Isla – fabulous!
We finish the day with James’ platform final. He performs even better in the final than he did this morning – nailing some of his dives for 8’s and wins the National title once more for the 5th year in a row! A really great result and I text his coach Jenny straight away to tell her the good news!
At the end of the day its time to announce the team points. There’s 12 teams from around the UK competing to win the Thistle Trophy 2014. Edinburgh Diving Club have won the event for the past 10 years (minus a small blip in 2005 when City of Leeds won. – Leeds are my old team so I suppose that’s ok!) The announcer counts backwards from 10th place. Harrogate…… Cambridge…… Dundee….. Ayr…..
The points are quite close at the top so it really is a complete surprise who has won. When the second place team Leeds is announced we realise we’ve won. All the Edinburgh divers are whooping and cheering and celebrating a great weekend of diving and the fact that the Thistle Trophy is staying in Edinburgh for another year longer – what a great team!!
That’s it for another year – all over! Time for me to get some rest and start planning for next year!
Edinburgh divers with their trophy!