Diver Jordan Houlden excels at hurtling into a pool at high speeds, but you won’t find him dipping his toes in the sea on holiday.
The 23-year-old from Sheffield had an inauspicious start to his diving career, spending two days of an introductory camp plucking up the courage to even get in the water.
And with good reason, he hadn’t yet learned how to swim. But now Houlden will makes his Commonwealth Games debut as part of Team England at Birmingham 2022, starting with today's 1m springboard competition.
“When I first started, Sheffield Diving came around schools and tested kids to see how good their dry land skills were like forwards roles, backwards rolls, pike shapes and stuff like that,” Houlden said.
“Then they picked me to come and do a three-day trial. On the first day. It was an hour dry, an hour in the pool. I was really good on dry land because I used to do gymnastics, I was able to do everything on that side.
“But then it came to the pool and I couldn't swim, so I was a bit scared to get in the water. It’s a 5.8m pool, so it’s quite deep so I was scared to get in.
“I didn’t get in on the first day, the second day I jumped off the poolside and then just quickly scrambled my way back out.
“On the third day I jumped off from the 1m and said I am not doing that ever again. I don’t know how but I am here now and I'm going to represent Team England at the Commonwealth Games.
“Even now I am alright with water, I’m still not a big fan of it. I don’t like going in the sea but I’m fine throwing myself off a diving board for some reason!”
Houlden made his senior international debut at the 2015 European Games, finishing in 9th in the 1m springboard final, a feat he repeated at the European Championships a year later.
Setbacks hampered his progress, but Houlden has enjoyed a successful start to 2022, claiming two silvers at the British Championships on home turf in Sheffield in April.
A gold medal would follow at the Calgary Diving Grand Prix earlier this month – and a debut World Championship selection – with everything trending in the right direction for Birmingham at the end of July.
He insists that he isn’t feeling the pressure of repeating Team England’s eight-medal haul from the Gold Coast four years ago.
He added: “I've definitely been building up towards it for a long time. I've had some slip ups in there, but I'm going towards the right track now, so onwards and upwards to the Commonwealth Games.
“It feels like I'm going to the right area. In Canada, everything was great, it just needs a few little touch-ups like clean ends and then everything will be set for the Commonwealths and Worlds as well.
“I don't feel too much pressure, obviously I do feel a little bit of pressure but because it’s my first one, it's more so just going out there and just having fun, not really stressing about places or anything like that.
“Hopefully, I make a final and then the unlikely target is a medal, but I don't just set my standards on just one little thing and so there's always goals in between.”