"It's very beautiful and it's an artistic sport, like flying like a bird."
Just 12 months ago these were the words of American David Colturi, in Ireland, as he compared cliff diving to the flight of a bird. Fast-forward one year from that beautiful day in Dún Laoghaire, when the largest crowd in World Series history gathered togther to enjoy the divers' free-falling acrobatics, and we are all currently living in a different world. The image of 85,000 people standing shoulder to shoulder, chatting, clapping and enjoying the action, certainly seems a distant memory.
Our cliff diving 'birds' could easily be forgiven for feeling a little down in their cages right now, but far from it. They may not be able to spread their wings from the platform, but their creativity and positivity is as strong as ever.
In a short series of interviews this week, we'll be finding out how a selection of the athletes are coping at home during these unusual months. Up first it's the World Series' 'sunny boy', David Colturi himself, who is today celebrating his 31st birthday.
Most people in the world are having to keep fit at home right now. But cliff diving isn't something you can practice in your garden, so how is it affecting your training?
The biggest obstacle is not having access to a pool, so high flying flips, twists, and water entries are on a frustrating hold for now, but thankfully there are still plenty of ways to get quality training in. I've acquired a decent amount of home gym equipment over the years, so strength training is at an all time high right now. Even if you don't have equipment, you can still get creative with home made resistance, and there's a ton of great inspiration via social media these days. Two of my favorite accounts on instagram are @ebenezersamuel23 and @senada.greca when looking for creative workouts and new moves.
Andy and I picked up some mats so we can work diving basics and flips on the ground level, and mixing that in with some cardio, plyometrics, balance, coordination, sprints, and explosive movements I have made an all around fitness program. One of the silver linings of this stay at home lockdown is the extra free time to work on my mental game and personal goals. I've been committing a lot of time to meditation, visualization, and just being positive and productive to be prepared when we get back to full on training and competition mode.
Could you have 3 or 4 months without diving, and go straight into a competition?
I think it would be very difficult to go straight into a competition without any diving training for multiple months. Is it possible? Sure, we've overcome bigger challenges, but I wouldn't feel comfortable throwing my hardest dives without the proper lead ups.
What does a typical day look like for you right now?
I've found it helpful to create routines, short- and long-term goals, and a list of activities to stay positive, productive, entertained, or relaxed. Here's what's working for me: A morning routine of checking emails, online socializing, and an easy jog or in-home cardio session followed by stretching to get the blood moving. Then I alternate between meals, workouts (above), and activities:
Books - just finished "Circe" by Madeline Miller, a fun, fantasy-fiction novel based on Greek Mythology; and, "Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest" by Hanif Abdurraqib, an awesome biographic music critique of the legendary hip hop group, perfect if you're into music. Currently reading "High Performance Habits" by Brendon Burchard, a great self-help book to take your personal and professional lives to the next level; and, "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker, which will convince you more than ever to sleep more, take that nap, and feel good about knowing why. Looking forward to "The Kingkiller Chronicle" by Patrick Rothfuss, and "The Stormlight Archive" by Brandon Sanderson, both are ongoing fantasy series and great time consumers.
Projects around the house - other than living with my girlfriend, Reyna, the only friend I keep in close physical contact with is fellow diver, Andy Jones. He recently moved into a new house which has been perfect for keeping us busy. So far we've constructed / installed a backyard patio and a storage shed. Now that the make shift dry-land facility has come in all we need to do is the in ground trampoline, hot tub, cold tub, sauna / steam room combo, foam pit, roof deck with bar and surround
sound stereo, tree house, etc... we'll be busy for a while ;) but for real, clean out that closet and organize the clutter you've left sitting for years.
Paint by numbers and movies - Reyna and I have started the Marvel movie marathon and paint a canvas with Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man to keep us company in the background.
Meditate - either solo focusing on sport specific drills, or using the Calm or Headspace apps.
Hobbies / new skills - what have you always wanted to try but didn't have the time for? Now's the time! I'm currently studying Spanish and am looking for a tutor that will host lessons over video chat. I've also enjoyed trying new recipes / making do with what we have in the house or a limited grocery store.
Catching up with family and friends - Now more than ever it's important to stay connected and positive, and it's so easy to call and video chat with those you miss but can't visit just yet.
Games - I busted out my old Nintendo 64 and am about half way through Donkey Kong. Zelda's up next. Reyna and I also have ongoing tournaments of Gin Rummy and Yahtzee.
All in all my mantra has been to be positive, productive, and stress free. It's a very difficult time right now, be grateful for what you have, and work on what you can. Don't worry too much, we'll get through this together!
What is the one thing you miss most and what don't you miss at all?
I'm a people person, so I definitely miss big groups, especially live music and dancing at concerts. I don't miss feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Even though I still have a never ending to do list, I don't get as worked up over missing, not finishing, or forgetting something. It's a mindset I hope to keep with me moving forward.
If tomorrow morning you could do anything in the world that you wanted to, one thing, what would it be?
I would fly to see my family, hug and hold them tight, and play games all in the same room together.