Health Lifestyle Sport

Diving together: a brief natter with the Haslam brothers

Commonwealth Games
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Last week we caught up with divers Jack and Ross Haslam, two brothers hopeful of representing England in the Commonwealth Games later this year.

They both love jumping into water from the kind of heights that makes most of us feel jelly-legged thinking about it. Plus they’re whizzbang at it. That’s all the reason we needed to chat to them.

Tell us a bit about yourselves. 

JACK: I’m 22. Me and Ross were both born and raised in Sheffield. We’ve trained here all our diving careers. I finished studying accounting and financial management this year at University of Sheffield. Slightly different to diving!  

ROSS: I’m 20 and I’ve been diving for about 14 years. Quite a lot of my life now! I finished sixth form in 2016 and then I had a year out last year. I had another year out this year as well.

Why those two years out?  

ROSS: I actually started univeristy for a week and then I got the timetable and realised that if I wanted to carry on diving to a high standard then I wouldn’t be able to do both. It was the head lecturer of the department that said you can step off the education treadmill, as she called it, at any time and you can always hop back on. But at the moment you can’t just stop diving and then carry on going in the same place. So she really helped me making the decision in seeing how my diving goes.  

JACK: Which paid off last year because he smashed it!  

ROSS: Yeah, I won my first national. I got three golds in one championship.   

Nice work. What are you hopes for this year and beyond then? 

JACK: We’ve both got very similar goals. Next week we’re heading down to Plymouth for the British nationals/Commonwealth trials. We’re doing snycro together. We won that last year and so we’re hoping to defend our titles. And then we’re both competing in individuals as well, which is going to be a nice little battle. I won the British nationals in January last year. Ross won it in June. And there are some other really good divers around. It should be exciting. Obviously the Commonwealth Games in Australia this April is the big one. Plus there’s the European Championships in the summer. Also the world cup and other grand prixes. Basically the higher up you come the more of those events you can get. So fingers crossed.  

How does it feel to dive as brothers?

ROSS: I’d say the advantages are that we both want each other to do well anyway. When you’re in synchro together it’s nice for Mum and Dad. In the past we’ve both had different diving partners and we’ve been competing against each other. No matter what happens your parents can’t be fully happy because one person is always slightly disappointed. Though, we’re always happy for each other. But it’s not the same as diving together and sharing the success. But then equally it’s hard because you don’t want to let your brother down – it’s not just another diver. And even as individual, even though we’re competing, you still want them to do well. It’s almost like their competition affects your competiton.  

JACK: It’s a bit strange!  

ROSS: A bit stressful. But it’s nice.  

How do your parents deal with you competing against each other?  

ROSS: I feel that they’re happy for both of us no matter what and they’re always proud of us. And if we both do well then they are very happy. But if one person comes back disappointed then they feel it too.  

How did your parents encourge you in sports and do they still today? 

JACK: They’ve always encouraged us to be active. We’ve both done loads of sports when were were younger. I played football for years. Mum, Dad and our grandparents have always helped us out. Any travel, they’ve been there. We finished school at 3:30pm and they took us to the pool at 4pm. And they used to stay around and take us home at 7pm. They’ve helped us through the whole thing. Can’t really thank them enough to be honest!  

How important do you think it is for parents to encourage without over-encouraging their kids?  

ROSS: We both coach in the evening. You see the differnce between the divers that have encouraging parents that help them, encouraging parents that put a little bit too much pressure on the child and then the parents that don’t really care as much about the training. Some parents want their child to do well, so they put quite a lot of pressure on. But actually I think what my mum and dad did was stay out of it to the point where they’ll ask how you session went, but if you don’t want to talk about it then that’s fine. I feel blessed that we have parents that support and help us but at the same time aren’t so involved that we feel we can’t escape it when we go home.  

Do you have any advice for parents wanting to encourage their kids in sport? 

JACK: Be proud of them no matter what, like our parents, which was a massive help. It’s about not putting too much pressure on, even though all a parent wants is the best for their child. That’s all they can do really.  

Finally, have you ever had you parents attempt diving?   

ROSS: When we were younger we had a fun session and the parents got involved. My mum’s done 5m dive before. She’s actually a fitness instructor where we train. We all seem to live at the pool. She held hands with me and jumped off and landed flat on her bum. She didn’t enjoy that! She wouldn’t walk up to the 10m board without gripping the sides. And then my dad did a 7m dive and broke his thumb. It didn’t go very well for him.  

Watch a collection of interviews and performances from British Swimming’s Aquatics athletes here.