Plymouth Life Centre busier than ever thanks to Tom Daley's Splash!
PLYMOUTH'S Life Centre is "busier than ever" with young and old learning to dive in the wake of the Olympics and the hit TV show Splash!
The upswing in dive training numbers comes as the £46.5million centre plays host to the British Gas Diving Championships this Friday through to Sunday.
The competition will be the first time UK divers have competed on home soil since the Olympic Games.
It is also the only chance for the country's very best divers to qualify for their place in the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
The Life Centre's profile rose considerably during the exciting TV series Splash! which drew millions of viewers.
Each week, viewers saw the city's own Olympian Tom Daley put an array of celebrities through their paces as they took on the daunting dive challenge.
The stars used the Life Centre as their training ground, while the Saturday show was filmed live in Luton.
After just two episodes of the show, which saw Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards being crowned the winner, the number of inquiries about diving sessions doubled.
On the back of that – and six-year-old Oscar Piper becoming an internet sensation when his 10m dive was posted by Tom online – the venue has seen young and old sign up for lessons.
Sally Freeman, the Life Centre diving manager who represented Great Britain at the Sydney Olympics, said the competition was good news for the city.
"Hosting the British Gas Diving Championships is a huge honour for the Plymouth Life Centre," she said. "Not only is this a fantastic showcase for diving but there is a huge amount of kudos attached to this event, particularly when you consider that it could have gone to one of the other diving centres such as the London Aquatics Centre, which was built for the 2012 Olympics.
"The Plymouth Life Centre is busier than ever with diving after the Splash! programme on ITV.
"Not only do we have elite athletes such as Tom Daley and Tonia Couch training here, we have diving lessons for all ages. Anyone from the age of six to 60 can enjoy diving and Splash! has really ignited an interest in this sport that the Diving Championships will help to maintain."
Herald Sport will be covering the championships this weekend – see www.thisisplymouth.co.uk and @PlymouthSport on Twitter for updates, and don't miss our round-up in Monday's Herald.