Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High Diving Splashing on New Platform Diving: World Championships

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High Diving Splashing on New Platform Diving: World Championships

Article excerpt

BARCELONA, Spain --

If Superman is known for leaping tall buildings in a single bound, then the men and women who are about to usher the swimming world championships into the X-Games-age might also qualify for superhero status.

At the very least, they are courageous pioneers.

High diving will make its debut in the FINA competition next week with 14 brave men and five fearless women jumping into Barcelona's harbor from 27- and 20-meter platforms.

That's the equivalent of a nine-story building for the men and seven stories for the women. Speeds will approach 100 mph.

"That really is a lot of guts and courage, and a dash of insanity," USA Diving high performance director Steve Foley said. "I can't wait. I think it's going to be fantastic."

The participating athletes come from the established Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, which has been known to attract crowds of more than 70,000 to its most popular event in La Rochelle, France, each year.

Three Americans are entered in the women's competition -- Cesilie Carlton, Ginger Huber and Tara Hyer Tira -- plus Anna Bader of Germany and Stephanie De Lima of Canada.

It wasn't expected when the FINA Bureau moved quickly to approve high diving as a full medal event just five months ago.

"It was quite surprising," said British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes. "But I've warmed to it. I've looked into it and I've talked to our colleagues from Red Bull.

"There's a good safety protocol around the whole thing and they've had a group of people who are really experienced in diving and safety looking at it," Sparkes added.

And if something does go wrong, organizers will be ready.

Just like on the Red Bull series, scuba divers and free divers will be waiting below when each diver jumps.

They enter the water simultaneously with the athlete to make sure he or she gets back up to the surface.

Still, the risk of injury is high, with the margin of error depending mostly on whether divers rotate too much or too little. …

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