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An interview with Jack Haslam, a Sheffield graduate who will be diving at the Commonwealth Games

He will represent Team England next month

Jack Haslam is a diver who will be representing Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. He won a gold medal on the 3m springboard at the British Diving Championships earlier this year.

Ahead of the Games, which take place from 4 April through to 15 April, we caught up with him at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre for an interview.

When did you start diving and how did you get into it?

I started diving when I was six, nearly seven, a long time ago now! I was having swimming lessons when I was a kid and the swimming teacher pulled my dad to one side, and I thought "what've I done now" but she said "he's got good body control, he should give diving a try" so I did, I had a few lessons and moved into Nikki Smith's squad at City of Sheffield Diving. She's still one of the coaches here in Sheffield and it's kind of gone from there really.

Diving is quite a niche sport, compared with something like football; what made you decide to go for diving?

I kind of just fell into it from a young age and decisions at that age are guided by what you get put into but I also did play football for many years, at academy level and also for the University team whilst I was there so I've got a lot of love for football as well but obviously diving is my main sport and it's the one I've excelled in. It is a bit of a weird sport, it's not as popular as the likes of football but it's got its own benefits and drawbacks. It's not so niche that you don't come across people you've met in other areas such as school friends who have gone on to do diving. In fact, my brother Ross is coming to the Commonwealth Games and we're doing a synchro there as well as individual dives. He started two years after me and as soon as he could swim he started diving too.

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Jack and Ross Haslam at the British Diving Championships in 2018

What did you study at Sheffield and how did you manage to balance diving and uni?

I did an undergraduate course in Accounting and Financial Management between 2014 and 2017. If I'm honest, it was pretty tough. In term time it was okay because my contact hours at university weren't too hectic but when it got to exam times I did find it difficult; I was training here [at Ponds Forge] from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM and then revising in my lunch break, then training till 4:30 PM, then going up to the Management School and then going to the library so it was a hectic couple of months around the exam periods in January and June. They were tough.

I understand diving is a sport where you're prone to injuries. Have you had any?

In 2010 I got a stress fracture in my lower spine so I couldn't do any sport for about two years and couldn't compete for three years. It really makes you realise what you're putting your body through, the impact when you hit the water is pretty stressful on your joints, especially off the springboards where you're putting a lot of force in, so it doesn't leave any part of your body not vulnerable to injury. But it's rewarding when you get to go to competitions such as the Commonwealth Games.

How are you finding the preparation for the Commonwealth Games?

Good! We go a week on Monday so it's getting close now, it's getting to the point where it seems a little more real. The training is a bit up-and-down but it's been going reasonably well so I'm just looking forward to getting out there! There are ten others in the Team England diving squad, they're all really nice, I know everyone on the team through competitions and get along with them well and there's a really nice team spirit. There's a competition this weekend so I'll get to see a few of them there and see how we're all faring for the Commonwealth Games.

How have you found diving coaching?

I've not currently got one squad that I regularly coach but I mainly do covering work, floating around different squads which need an extra coach. I enjoy certain parts but you get some kids who are tough to manage which can be frustrating but it's got the benefit of seeing young kids progressing and developing through diving, so that's quite nice.

We wish Jack and the rest of Team England the best of luck at the Commonwealth Games!