Ten months ago, the Red Bull Cliff Diving family welcomed a brand new addition as athletes Anna Bader and Kris Kolanus became the parents of a beautiful baby girl, Roksana. Not only was it a joyous moment, but also an historic one, as the first and only 'cliff diving family' was born. The proud parents are back in action this summer in the ninth Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, but how do they balance their demanding day job with the pressures and responsibilities of parenthood?
"Everything has changed, like for all parents," explains Bader. "Priorities have shifted, time is running differently, training doesn't work as before. There is this constant lack of sleep, changing diapers, the desperate effort to feed her while she is running around and wants to play."
That does indeed sound like the general day-to-day life of a new parent. But, unlike most parents, Bader and Kolanus are professional athletes who compete in one of the most complex and physically demanding sports in the world. Instead of a normal 9-5, their office constantly moves from one continent to another, and when they arrive at work it's to leap off 21 and 27 metre platforms instead of sitting comfortably at a desk. But baby Roksana travels with them to every stop, and Bader wouldn't have it any other way:
"Sometimes it is very chaotic," says the German, "but we love what we do and we love that we are together as a family. It is tough to be separated from Roksi when we can't be with her during competition, like on the Azores where she wasn't allowed on the island, but we are blessed to have her and we barely remember how life was without her."
The family pose for a photo during the third stop of the season in Polignano a Mare, Italy. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.
For all the chaos and sleepless nights though, it seems that Bader has returned from her baby break stronger than ever, grabbing a podium finish in both her appearances this season. A brilliant third place in the Portuguese Azores on her first appearance in almost two years was followed by the same feat in Polignano a Mare, Italy.
"That was pretty cool and for me unexpected," says Bader. "Last year I had the chance to enjoy and watch from outside and see how the divers prepare, everyone has different strategies. It really pumped my motivation and I learnt a lot. I am so lucky to be part of it again, and I actually think I am diving better now than before pregnancy."
Bader returned to action in the Azores in brilliant style, grabbing 3rd place on the podium. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
Kolanus, back as a permanent diver this year after a brilliant wildcard season in 2016, hasn't quite enjoyed the same lightning fast start as his partner, but the Pole explains that this is down to upping his dive difficulty this season:
"My goal for this season was to work on my DD," says Kolanus. "I have two extremely difficult dives in my program - quint half and quad half inward pike - which require a lot of mental work and preparation. They don't always work 100% yet."
Kris Kolanus: Father, cliff diver, coach and businessman. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
In addition to this, the 30-year-old is also juggling more than just being a parent and an elite diver:
"Everything has changed. I am now not only a diver, I am also a father, Anna's coach and MAD HOPPERS businessman. That doesn't make things easier but I am still pushing my limits as a cliff diver."
Elite divers, first-time parents and business partners? Sounds like these two really do love diving in at the deep end.
"MAD HOPPERS is our new brand," explains Bader. "In cooperation with other cliff divers and friends we organize events - especially in the off season, like our Mad Hoppers Minitramp contest - we offer workshops to people who want to get into cliff diving, we are into fashion for extreme sports, and we work on movies. Kris is an infinite source of creativity and has a lot of amazing ideas. We invite everyone to share ideas and work with us to grow and to promote the sport which we all love."
Looking ahead to the future, would the proud parents like their daughter to follow them into the world of cliff diving?
"We would like her to find something that she is passionate about," says Bader. "It doesn't have to be diving, but it can."
Whatever the future may hold, life certainly looks very exciting, and busy, for the first and only cliff diving family.