Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Leeming looks ahead to British National Diving Cup

"Throughout the pandemic and 2021 season the divers and I adopted a ‘solutions only’ focus, not to dwell on the things we have no control over and to make the most of the situation in front of us."

With the International aquatics calendar getting increasingly busy, training and competitive opportunities will be key to athletes and coaches during 2022. The first main opportunity for our divers comes this weekend, with the British National Diving Cup taking place at the Plymouth Life Centre from the 11th-13th February. The event will showcase the best of Britain’s diving talent at the start of a busy year for the sport.

Ahead of travelling down to the event earlier this week, we caught up with Jen Leeming (Diving Performance Coach) and asked what her thoughts were on the year ahead.

After the past couple of years, how important is it to have such an event so early on in the year?

Other than the top tier athletes in British diving, the divers sitting below that have had limited or no in-person opportunities to compete since January 2020.  Scottish Nationals in December was their first real event since the pandemic.  The National Cup offers the divers the opportunity to assess their current performance level, remember physical and psychological effects of competing and see, in person, other British divers.   The fact the meet is in February also allows plenty of time to put adaptations in place if required before the summer’s main competitions. 

There was plenty of talent on show in Edinburgh at the National Diving Championships back in December, what are your expectations for your divers going into Plymouth? 

We have a team of eight divers travelling from Scotland.  Each diver has different individual goals for the event but the overriding goal for them all is to improve on their performance from Scottish Nationals.  

A number of divers have been trying out new dives, how difficult is it for a coach to introduce a new dive into their athletes’ programme?

Learning a new dive is a very exciting time in a diver’s season, a lot of work goes into preparing both body and mind for the new skill.  The divers must have the correct strength, awareness, flexibility and confidence.  You have to be sure that the new dive will out score the old dive you will be replacing, you have to consider when to compete it and what events are good practice events to ensure you are confident on it for the main event of the season.   

The FINA World Championships have been postponed then rescheduled. How might this impact on training and preparation ahead of the Commonwealth Games?

In all such scenarios we simply have to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings on that and then adapt our season plan. Throughout the pandemic and 2021 season the divers and I adopted a ‘solutions only’ focus, not to dwell on the things we have no control over and to make the most of the situation in front of us.   

Congratulations on graduating from the UK Sport Female Leadership Programme, what were your key learnings and did you learn anything about yourself in the process? 

The course was very much based on developing your own journey and thinking about the big picture of where you want to go as a coach and a leader. The course encouraged me to reflect on my achievements to date and what areas I can work on to become a better leader.  The programme highlighted traits many females have and how they can negatively affect their development in a leadership role. It also reminded me of the importance of self-development and of having a team around you that both supports and challenges your vison. 

You are now going to mentor the next cohort on the Programme, how important is it to have a network of female coaches across the sporting landscape? 

I think what UK Sport are trying to achieve with this programme is excellent and the relationships they are enabling through the programme will be invaluable in the long run.  The number of women in leadership roles in most sports is small therefore it can be difficult to find a role model or someone to speak to about the challenges you face a female in high performance sport. However, if you have access to women from a whole host of sports then your connections are far deeper. 

There were two divers in Glasgow, four divers on the Gold Coast, James is pre-selected for Birmingham. How excited are you by the development of divers and diving in Scotland? 

I think the progress in Scottish Diving is very exciting.  We started with some key individuals, Grace Reid in Delhi and then James Heaty and Grace in Glasgow who showed the Scottish divers, both male and female, what is possible and what they could attain with the correct focus and work ethic. James and Grace are both home grown talent and are great role models for the younger divers in the Scottish programmes. You can clearly see the affect they have had on Scottish diving not only in numbers of divers diving but also in the quality of divers coming up. The next Generation are trying harder dives than previous generations, training more hours and more aware of what is possible. It’s an exciting place to be. 

The British National Diving Cup 2022 is being streamed live across the British Swimming YouTube and Facebook channels.