Stephen had been diving for many years when, back in 2001, he decided to compete in the 2002 Sydney Gay Games. He found that five people from Sydney were planning to compete and together they formed a diving club so they could train together.

Today, some of the people have changed but Diving Masters is still going. Stephen and James are friends and the mainstays of the club.

So why a club? Stephen explains: It’s just a group of people diving but we are affiliated with Diving NSW because we need to be insured. Diving can be quite a dangerous sport, which is why the Sydney Aquatic Centre won’t let the public just come along and dive.

Against the backdrop of the main pools at Homebush, filled with swimmers of all ages, the area around the diving boards sits in serious contrast to the shouts and splashing.

We have a qualified coach who is watching us all the time, Stephen says. We don’t actually do anything unless Martha is watching.

On Saturdays from 11am until 1pm and Thursday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:30pm the coach supervises up to 10 divers. The club cost is $20 per person for each session regardless of how many people turn up. Even with pool entry charges added, these diving classes with a professional coach are very good value.

Martha, an international-standard diver from Canada, takes good care of her charges. She encourages rather than pushes and everyone seems very comfortable with her approach. James says the coach doesn’t have to add to the experience: The first time I did handstands on the five-metre platform I was shaking with excitement.

James competed at the Gay Games in Chicago this year and said it was a wonderful experience and he was very glad he put in the training.

Back in Sydney, Stephen says it’s a very welcoming environment.

Here, you don’t have to be experienced at all. Provided you can fall off a board, hold your breath under water and swim to the side of the pool, you can start training. There are all levels of abilities and it does take some time to learn the more difficult tricks.

This gay-friendly club will welcome anyone who wants to continue diving or learn how. To be really competitive you would have to do more work than this club offers. After all, most elite divers start their training in their childhood years and peak in their teens.

At any level, diving is a tremendous personal achievement. Off the higher boards it’s almost like flying, James says. You grow both mentally and physically.

Stephen agrees: Diving is about facing your fears. When you are about to jump off the 10-metre board your body says, -˜What are you doing to me?’ and you really feel a sense of accomplishment when you get through that mind-over-fear stage.

James moved to diving after several years with an aerobics team and spent some time on the springboards before moving to the higher platforms. Stephen started in gymnastics and says that diving is much easier.

Many have come and gone and new people are well looked after. It may not be elite standard but is perhaps the only adult diving club in Sydney. It’s a great club to build your confidence if you have never dived with a professional on hand and if you want to keep improving.

Contact Stephen on 0411 555 372 or stephenshaw14@hotmail.com.

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