Getting to Know Matthias Appenzeller

An interview with the only Swiss athlete on tour

What does it mean for you to take part in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series?
I pursued a normal diving career for a long time. I had the possibility to go to junior world championships and junior European championships as well. Because of injuries and other issues I had to stop before I reached all my goals. Luckily, I found cliff diving and started to practice in this kind of diving.

Until last year I didn't have any goals or things I wanted to achieve. I wanted to enjoy the competitions and have a good time with the friends I made all over the world.

It was just last year that Owen Weymouth, Alain Kohl and Ellie Smart started to motivate me to dream bigger and try to take the plunge and apply for Red Bull Cliff Diving. I'm now really happy and proud, that I was able to put everything together and that I'm now really able to compete with all these role models.

And also, a funny quote: The first time I saw cliff diving was 2009 when Red Bull Cliff Diving came to Switzerland. I was 14 by then and participated in a workshop that Orlando held. I still have a photo collage of this day in my room. It is crazy that my first Red Bull competition is at exactly the same spot where I saw cliff diving nine years ago.

What scares a cliff diver? It's not heights for sure...
It's the feeling of failing in general. Since I was young I'm trying to give the best and all I have.
No matter how clearly, I know that I can do things really well, I'm always worried about not succeeding.

What's your parents' attitude towards your dangerous passion?
They have to live with it. First, they had a hard time seeing me diving from these altitudes, but it got better and better. When they heard first about my plans about the World Series they didn't like it at all. But when they realized, that it's really important for me, they helped me on my way.

Fill in the following phrase: A cliff diver automatically is also a...
some kind of adrenaline junkie and also not shy to perform in front of a great crowd.

Have you lost the ability to jump in the water like a 'normal' person?
When I go surfing I can behave like a normal person without any problems. I need these things besides diving. Diving is my passion for sure, but I think that it is important to have something to balance it, like school, a job or other hobbies. Otherwise it would get way too serious for me and I would lose the fun and love I feel for cliff diving.

Could you do mental maths during a dive?
For sure; the only thing I'm struggling with is the take-off, when I'm in the air, nothing can stop me.

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?
Since I'm quite heavy and not so good with entries I am rather the guy for more twists. I like it when somebody pushes the sport to new levels like Gary or Steve with his quints. On the other hand, it needs to be safe, if somebody doesn't know where to stop, it's dangerous and not a good image of our sport.

How high does a cliff have to be for you to say no?
Until last year it was 27m.

How high was the highest cliff you ever jumped from?
29m

At what age would you allow your children to jump off 27/21 metres?
I guess that's not a question of age. For such a height you have to practice half of your life. It takes steady practice in diving and also a good muscular base, moreover you have to be mentally ready. But luckily I am 23 years and don't have to think about kids yet.

If you weren't a cliff diver, what would you have become instead?
I'm on the way to get my degree in law school. So probably I will become a lawyer or something in this direction. But for now, I'm over the moon to be a cliff diver!!

Who looks better doing a dive, the girls, or is it the boys?
Both have their advantages. Of course, I like the diving of the girls, they are amazingly brave and their skills are enormous!! But since I am competing against the boys and try to learn from them, I think their diving is a little bit more interesting.

What would you say is true luxury?
True luxury is to be healthy, have a family or at least a partner who is always here for you, no matter how bad you feel, like an anchor and at least have the possibility to decide yourself, what you want to do in life. That is true luxury.

Is there a sport you really suck at?
Soccer.

If you had to pick a song that represents your current style the best, which one would it be?
Lenny Kravitz, Fly way.

Your personal dream location (regardless of budget)
Vietnam

Have you ever used your talent to impress girls at the swimming pool? How did it work?
I think everybody did it; boys are boys. Especially normal diving is not recognized as a big sport and so we didn't have a lot of spectators. So if you have the chance to get some girls shouting, you're going all in for sure. But it's funny how everybody thinks this is one of the main things about diving.

What's your personal goal for the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2018?
Compete four solid dives and who knows where it's going to lead me. For sure I'm going to focus on my dives not the result, because it's my first comp.