MORE than 100 children from schools across Southampton and the surrounding area took to the boards at the Quays Swimming and Diving Complex to battle it out in the 11th annual Southampton Schools’ Diving Championships.
The competition was opened by Sarah White, a member of the GB junior team for the last three years, treating the crowd to a demonstration dive from 10m. She then stayed on to coach and judge.
At lunchtime spectators and competitors were treated to a dazzling display by divers from all levels of Southampton Diving Academy choreographed by Mollie James, another of the Elite divers, and accompanied with a running commentary from Olympic coach Lindsey Fraser.
For many of the entrants this was their first competition experience and some have only been diving for a few weeks.
Stage 1 divers opened with two rounds of jumps from the bath side and concluding with one skill from the 1m springboard, the most complex dive executed being a back dive tucked.
Stage 2 divers went on for a further two rounds, the first on the 1m springboard and the final round on 3m springboard.
Many of the divers entering Stage 2 of the competition were members of the “TID-13” programme: divers who entered the sport after talent identification during the summer of 2013. There were events for both boys and girls from school Years 1-8.
For the third time the competition included divers from ‘Divability’, the diving programme for young people with disabilities.
Gold medalists were: Katherine Baker (12), Kate Baxter (10), Jasmine Brooks (10), Alfie Dudson (11), Matthew Harrison (10), Lucie Hill (12), Dylan Hills (13), Maya Kutty (9), Robbie Lee (9), Joshua Lucas-Fitzgerald (9), Alex Marcus (10), Connie Mason (9), James Nicholson (7), Ben Prewer (7), Callum Seaton (7), Abigail Tompkins (7).
The Primary School team trophy was taken by Shirley Junior, who also boasted the highest number of members in the talent programme this year.
The highlights of the competition included scores of 9 and 9.5 awarded to Robbie Lee, Olive Ullyatt, Oliver Cazaly and Holly Hopgood for their forward line up from the 3m springboard. Tight body control throughout the dive, allowing a smooth entry into the water is the secret of success with this skill and all four children were able to show this. On the poolside station the most outstanding skills were shown by Maya Kutty, who scored a total of 37.8 points on her forward jump with tuck and 35 points on her back jump with tuck, the highest marks of any diver in the meet for these two rounds of competition.
Diving development officer for Active Nation and Olympic coach Lindsey Fraser was delighted with the standard of the competition and the number of competitors. “The children’s performances were of a high standard overall,” she said. “I was particularly struck by their composure and focus. These results have been achieved with hard work and commitment, which is clearly paying off.”