LONDON. The men’s springboard diving events are over at the Games of the XXXth Olympiad, but that doesn’t stop 13-year-old Tyler Scher as he climbs up the three-meter tower here. “He needs all the practice he can get,” says coach Mark Wertz as he watches his young charge. “A lot of people don’t realize it, but the Olympics are only 1,442 days away.”
Failed can opener
As his coach says these last words sotto voce, Scher walks to the edge of the board, bounces, flies high in the air and then enters the water clumsily, making a splash big enough to put him out of contention in most diving competitions.
Men’s heavyweight cannonball competition
“Good work, Ty,” Wertz says as he makes a note on his ever-present clipboard. “You got good volume on your splash, but we need to work on your height.”
Scher and others assembled here this morning are looking to represent their countries at the 2016 Summer Olympics, when they hope pool jumping will be elevated from a “demonstration” sport to a full medal event. “I coulda been a diver, easy,” says Tony DiStefano of West Hartford, Connecticut, “but I like to make a splash.”
“You call that a Preacher’s Seat?”
The current competition features five classic jumps–cannonball, preacher’s seat, can opener, suicide and back splat–and newly-minted experts in the field predict the United States will dominate the event because all are American creations except for the can opener, which originated in France as the ouvre-boite. “You don’t have to push American kids to be great jumpers,” says Jerry Fronzo of the National Youth Pool-Jumping Association. “It’s the fourth most-popular summertime activity among American boys after baseball, video games and beating off.”