david colturi

“IT’S WHERE WE ALL FEEL ALIVE” 

Words: Ann Donahue
Photo Left: Rick Rodney

During the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, risking life and limb by jumping 90 feet into the water is all in a days work for David Colturi.  

After winning a national championship in the 10m dive, David Colturi aimed higher— approximately 60 feet higher, to 30m—by joining the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2012. There are eight stops in 2015, including one at Possum Kingdom Lake near Fort Worth, Texas on May 30.

THE RED BULLETIN: So, I don’t suppose “Don’t look down!” is realistic advice in this situation.

DAVID COLTURI: I think a pre-dive routine or a pre- skill routine is extremely important for any athlete to have, whether it’s standing at the free-throw line shooting an easy free throw or stepping up on a 90-foot cliff and chucking yourself off and trying to survive. Oh wait, yes, what do I do? [Laughs.] 

david colturi

Former US national 10m champion David Colturi became the youngest diver to appear in a full World Series in 2012.

Your dives last three seconds, but it’s a long walk up to the top of the cliff. What are you doing during that time?

Five or six divers before me, I do breathing exercises and
I start visualizing my dive from a third person—like the judge’s perspective. I also do that from a first- person perspective: What I’m looking at from the platform view, what I’ll see when I come out of the rotation, spot the water and bring my feet down for the landing.

Have you overcome the fear? 

When you step to the edge and look down at the water, you get the anxiety and the nervousness and the fear, but it’s all about being able to control it with your mental skills. Honestly, once you start your arm swing and take off from the platform, everything disappears: the judges, the audience, the music—it’s really just you and the air. It’s such liberating freedom. I think I speak for all the cliff divers in the series when I say it’s such a rewarding feeling. It’s where we all feel alive. 

david colturi

Colturi dives from the platform at Uytengsu Aquatics Center at the University of Southern California.

All of the cliff divers in the series do seem to have a good rapport—is there a degree of camaraderie among you guys?

More than a degree—I’ve never seen a group of individuals seriously, truly cheer for each other [like we do]. Obviously, the potential consequences of something going wrong are so nasty that nobody wants to see a bad dive. We’re like brothers; we go through every emotion on the scale, from completely terrified—some of the guys are crying sometimes, they can’t get off the platform—to the other end of it, where after the competition you’re so overwhelmed with joy and elated to look back on the experience and that everybody did it and everybody’s safe.

Do the skills you’ve learned in diving translate into everyday life?

Definitely. Doing a backflip is a pretty cool party trick. 

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06 2015 The Red Bulletin

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