Getting to Know: Eleanor Smart

Eleanor Smart
A revealing interview with the ambitious American as she turns 25

If you've ever looked at a cliff diver and assumed they are crazy, careless adrenaline junkies, then think again.  Leaping from heights of up to 27m is not for the fearless, it's for the brave. In the week of her 25th birthday, Eleanor Smart, the cliff diver with an ambitious goal to clean up the planet, reveals all in this quickfire interview.

What scares a cliff diver? It's not heights for sure...
Spiders and bugs. They terrify me!

Fill in the following phrase: A cliff diver automatically is also a...
...very brave person. I feel like a lot of people think cliff divers are a bunch of crazy fearless people, but that's so far from the truth. Cliff divers get scared just like everyone else, but what distinguishes them from the rest is their bravery. They know how to look their fear in the face and push through it.

It's all about looking your fears in the face and pushing through. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Have you lost the ability to jump in the water like a 'normal' person?
No, not at all! I went to Bali, Indonesia last year and I got all nervous to jump off this 12 meter cliff. It was hilarious!

Could you do mental maths during a dive?
No way!

What impresses more: Somebody who is able to perform one twist more, or someone who performs two somersaults less than you but in perfect execution?
It totally depends on the situation. Overall, I think one more twist is more impressive because it's harder and shows that individual is pushing the boundaries of the sport. However, at the same time when it comes down to a competition it's more impressive to see a dive perfectly executed.

How high does a cliff have to be for you to say no?
It depends how much I have been training and how my body feels. But I probably wouldn't go any higher than 30m.

How high was the highest cliff you ever jumped from?
The first time I ever went cliff jumping I jumped from about 27 meters (I didn't know at the time how high it was I just knew people had done it so I went for it) and that's still my highest jump today.

At what age would you allow your children to jump off 27/21 metres?
I don't think there is a specific age, it would be more of when I thought they were mentally and physically ready... but with that said probably not before their late teens/early 20's!

Smart's World Series debut came on the rough Irish coast in 2017. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

If you weren't a cliff diver, what would you have become instead?
Sport psychologist, I am actually currently doing my masters in sport psych with the intent to get my PhD. I'm really passionate about working in extreme sports and with female athletes dealing with eating disorders, mental illness, etc.

Who looks better doing a dive, the girls, or is it the boys?
That's tough... the girls have the pretty lines and form, but the guys have the power and strength! I'd probably have to give it to the girls!

What would you say is true luxury?
At the end of the day, being able to pursue your passion and do what you love. That is a true luxury.

Is there a sport you really suck at?
Basketball. I get so competitive, but I'm so bad! It's a good thing I stuck with diving!

If you had to pick a song that represents your current style the best, which one would it be?
Good Day, Nappy Roots.

Who would you want to be for a day? Why?
Oprah Winfrey. She's such an amazing woman and philanthropist. I love all the work she is doing around the globe and hope that one day I can make such an impact. It would be awesome to be in her shoes for a day.

Your personal dream location (regardless of budget)
I would love to explore Africa. I feel like it is one of the only places that haven't really been explored and I hear there are some great waterfalls.

Why cliff diving and not ballet?
When I was little, I did ballet and I would always get in trouble for flipping around in the back! Personally, I think cliff diving is a perfect mixture of everything - beauty, grace, lines, but also guts, power, and strength!

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Passionate, adventurous, and caring.

Your biggest weakness:
My biggest weakness is definitely that I can be very impatient. I expect a lot from myself and want to do everything now. I have to remind myself that I have a lot of years left to accomplish things.

What headline would you want to read about yourself?
I would want to read a headline that said I made a positive impact, whether that be on the environment, people, etc. It's really important to me to not just "win" but to use the platform I have been given to make the Earth a better place.

Passionate about the planet - Smart is helping to clean up the Earth with her 'Clean Cliffs Project'. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Something you always wanted to do but never dared to so far (does not have to be dive-related)?
This is going to sound crazy... I would love to go scuba diving, but I'm so scared of being under water. It freaks me out! My biggest fear is drowning. But I'd love to do it in really, really, really, clear water with a TON of people around me. Haha.

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
I would say, "follow your passion completely. Never ever give up, no matter what happens or what others say." I have been diving since I was five and dreamt of the day I would represent my country and stand on that podium. I tried so hard when I was younger, even moved away from home at 15 to train, but never qualified for an international meet in "normal" diving. After years and years of persevering and not seeing results I stopped diving and was so confused why it never happened for me. A few years later I found high diving and in November 2018 I won my first international medal! I think a high diving medal is WAY cooler than anything else!!!

Please, finish this sentence: If I could tell you just one thing...
I would tell you to trust God, fate, or the universe (whatever you believe in) because its plan for you is so much greater than anything you could ever imagine if you just give up control and let yourself live the life you were meant to live!

What's the most important asset in cliff diving?
A clear mindset. You can be in the greatest shape, completely prepared for your dives, but if you don't have a clear mindset it can be devastating. I learned this the hard way (haha). After two seasons in the World Series, I never had a solid performance because my mind wasn't in the right place, but then I went into the 2018 World Cup with a clear mind and I was able to show my true abilities.

A first World Series podium for the American came in Mostar in 2019. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Looking at the pool of cliff divers, build the perfect athlete.
The perfect athlete.... I would take: Rhiannan's mindset, Owen's enthusiasm, Orlando's experience, Steve's guts, and Michal's/Alessandro's muscles & strength.