Born in Sheffield, England, 26 year-old Clare Cryan didn't know how to swim when she began her diving career!
She's now 17 years into her training and is on the road to Olympic qualification (as well as having completed her Sport + Exercise Science studies at the same time) ! We sat down with Clare to talk about her hopes, fears + lockdown routine as well as giving us a few pointers about her sport if you're looking to... err... dive into something new!
What does your normal training schedule look like and how did the Covid crisis change your routine?
We do a lot of dry land training for diving. So a combination of gymnastics, trampolining, conditioning and stretching, as well as strength and conditioning sessions.
In a usual pre-corona week I would do 11 pool sessions, 8 diving dry land sessions and 2 strength and conditioning sessions. That’s about 25 hours a week. Sunday is a day off!
Yeah it was a big change! As much as I missed being in the water and training with my team mates I actually quite enjoyed the difference in training and having to adapt and be a little creative. I was using a mattress in the garden to practice my somersaults and filled a suitcase with books to do workouts with.
What keeps you motivated?
I love diving. I was always told if I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t need to go, but even through the tears and fear of learning new dives, I still wanted to be there.
The main motivation is that I want to know that I gave it my best shot and whatever the outcome I can be happy knowing I did all that I could.
I took a year out of competitive diving and really missed that intense training and working towards something. So, I guess it has made returning to competitive diving easier as I know 100% its where I want to be.
What's your biggest fear and who is your hero?
I’m going to get deep here. I’m most scared about life after diving. Diving has been my life longer than its not! I have got plans for post diving but it will be a new adventure and I don’t know how it will turn out.
And my dad is my hero. He was outnumbered living with 4 girls… that must have been tough! But seriously, he is always patient and ready to help anyone at the drop of a hat.
Does it help having so many supportive people around you?
I feel really lucky that I have so many great people around me!
For starters the diving community is like a big family. As a lot of sports, we train multiple sessions a day, so we have great relationships with each other, keeping training fun but also a network of people that understand the decisions and sacrifices we make.
It’s a relatively small sport, internationally too and we spend a fair amount of time queuing for our goes so we are able to chat a lot and make new friends around the world.
My friends away from diving are also great. They understand that I can’t make every party or that I might not be able to stay long as I have training early in the morning. But they are always there for a chat, or a coffee.
My family too, they’ve been my biggest supporters through my 17 years of diving!! Things have had to work around diving a lot and all the lifts to training and competitions. I have a fantastic support network.
Tell us about your road to the Olympics!
I still need to qualify a spot for the Olympics. We should have been in Tokyo in April, but obviously that didn’t happen. That competition (the World Cup) should be held in February next year where I will need to finish in the top 18 in order to qualify for the Olympics. So there is still a lot of time to get some good quality training in before then.
If I qualify I would be Ireland's first female Olympic diver… my team mates Ciara McGing and Tanya Watson will also go to the World Cup so maybe there could be a few of us as the first female divers for Ireland!
What are some of your best tips for beginners?If you want to have a go at diving then your best bet is to see where the closest diving pool is to you... that might be a little tricky as there aren’t loads of diving pools around but it’s worth investigating!
- If you’re a confident swimmer and you just want that adrenaline from jumping in then there are plenty of spots into the sea. Just make sure before you jump you get in the water and check the depth! And remember the depth will change with tide, so check each time you go!!
- Diving doesn’t have too many similarities with swimming other than they both need water! The furthest you need to swim is like 5m... a couple of meters back to the surface and then a couple of meters back into poolside (but you do need to be confident - most diving lessons will require you to swim at least 25m)
- For diving we do a lot of body conditioning and gymnastic type exercises. A lot of our gym work is about leg power as the higher we can jump the more somersaults we can fit in! So our strength and conditioning sessions include a lot of squats, deadlifts, lunges. And then we do arms more as accessory work. Keep up your gym sessions!
- The other major area we target is core. We need a strong core to help generate our rotations but also to be able to hold still through the water. When you are diving off 10m boards, you're travelling at roughly 50km/h so the water tries to throw you around a bit! We do a range of isometric holds like planks, dish holds, arch holds. But we also do more dynamic ab conditioning too like v-sits and hanging leg raises. Core strength is the key to form!
Keep an eye on Clare is she continues her training and prepares to make Irish Olympic history!