It’s a first. High-flying diving, which has been part of the world swimming championship program for nine years, is making its debut this year in the European championship events. From Thursday August 18 to Saturday August 20 in Rome, spectators will be able to admire the divers of this extreme sport.
The principle is simple, but not without danger. For men, divers launch from a platform 27 meters above the water – the equivalent of an eight-story building. The women start from 20 meters high. After this free fall, the athletes perform figures and acrobatics then fall into the water, feet first, at more than 85 km/h.
It is Gary Hunt who will wear the colors of France for these European championships. The Briton, naturalized French in 2018, is a favorite. At 38, he is one of the references in the field. Twice titled at the world championships organized by the International Swimming Federation (2015, 2019), he mainly displays on his list nine championship titles in Red Bull Cliff Diving, the world’s top diving circuit.
A big challenge
In Rome, Gary Hunt will also align himself with the mixed synchronized diving (jump to 10 m), with Jade Gillet. For several months, the diver has made up his mind to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. “I’ve never done an Olympics”he recalled in June during a stage of the Red Bull Cliff Diving in Paris – high-flying diving is not on the program of the Games.
But the challenge is daunting. For the 10 meter dive, entry into the water is head first. Adaptation is not easy. “I don’t want to be ridiculous. I leave a sport where I am world champion to go to another where I have everything to prove “he explained to Franceinfo in June.