What’s On learns diving in Dubai at DuDive, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex. Hear from a coach on how to dive in Dubai and book lessons.
At What’s On, we are always keen to get wet, throw ourselves from heights and try something new, all in the name of sharing it with you. Springboard and platform diving ticked all of those boxes, so we were quick to pull on our swim shorts and take the plunge. The venue is Hamdan Sports Complex, a vast space-age edifice that shimmers blue and silver in the desert near Arabian Ranches.
Inside is an Olympic swimming stadium, complete with diving pool, training pool and the UAE’s first and only diving club, DuDive. With 250 members and counting, DuDive has tapped the global craze for the sport since divers like Britain’s Tom Daley hit the scene. Our ambitions were a little less Olympian than Tom’s, hoping simply for a non-belly-flop scenario.
Standing poolside, we took in the scale of the operation. Springboards at one metre and three metres, platforms at one, three, five and 7.5 metres. And then there was the ten-metre platform, which looked worryingly just a few inches shorter than the Burj Khalifa.
Before we even set foot in the water, head coach Dan had us bouncing on a trampoline to warm up. Moving to the pool, we began jumping feet-first from the one metre platform. Easy. We then jumped feet first from higher platforms and springboards until we reached the 10-metre monster. Staring over the edge, we felt much as Simba must have felt held atop Pride Rock at the start of The Lion King. With Dan’s instructions in our head, we made the leap, tucked our knees up, then straightened out stiff as a plank. The impact was more powerful than a casual plop into your pool, but we came up smiling and ready for more.
Next we tried going in headfirst – don’t worry, you won’t be expected to dive from ten metres on day one. With close guidance from our instructor, we felt confident and natural, but we doubt it looked graceful.
Meet the coach, Dan Campbell
Dan started diving at seven. He went on to become British Under 13s Three-Metre Springboard and Synchronised Diving National Champion, and a member of the British National Development Squad. He’s been coaching since the age of 16.
Who can do springboard and platform diving?
Anyone. Our lessons start from age five through to adults. The important thing is that you can swim and have the courage to give it a go.
Is it difficult?
It depends on what you are aiming to achieve. The dives you see in the Olympics take years of practice to achieve, but if you come along to learn the basics, your instructor will have you diving in no time.
Does it hurt?
When it goes wrong, yes. The whole aim of our lessons, however, is to work with the individual to help them overcome their own hurdles at their own speed to minimise the risk of anything going wrong. We also do a lot of work on trampolines and mats to help reduce the pain factor.
What are the physical benefits?
People don’t realise how physically demanding diving is. It increases body strength, especially the core and shoulders.
What about the psychological benefits?
Any exercise is great for improving your psychological wellbeing. Diving allows people to set goals and overcome fears in their own time. This helps build self-confidence, especially in children.
DuDive, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex, Dubai, Sat 11am to 7pm, plus Sun, Tue, Wed and Thur evening, Dhs65 per hour, 12-week term Dhs780. Tel: (055) 6458478. Taxi: Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex. dudive.com