Sheffield diver who could not swim when he took up sport qualifies for World Championships

Not in his wildest dreams - or nightmares - would Jordan Houlden have ever imagined representing Great Britain at a World Championships when he first tried diving.

Friday, 3rd June 2022, 2:52 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd June 2022, 2:52 pm

“I wouldn’t get in the water on day one,” he recalls of his nine-year-old self, who had been invited to a three-day taster session with City of Sheffield Diving Club after showing potential during a school visit.

"The second day I would jump in off poolside and the third day I jumped off the one-metre board with a coach holding a pole for me to grab onto.

"After I did that I said I wasn’t going to do it again.”

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Sheffield diver Jordan Houlden.

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The youngster from Sheffield’s Parson Cross estate could hardly be blamed for his trepidation - he was unable to swim.

But last week Jordan, now 23 and much improved in the pool, won two silver medals in the Men’s 1m and 3m Springboard at the British Diving Championships at Ponds Forge.

That achievement has seen him selected to represent Britain in the same events at the FINA World Championships Budapest, which begin on June 18.

British 1m and 3m Springboard champion Yasmin Harper.

Two more Sheffield divers, British 1m and 3m Women’s Springboard champion Yasmin Harper and Clare Cryan, who represents Ireland, will also compete in the Women’s 1m and 3m Springboard in Budapest.

“I’m over the moon,” ex-Parkwood Academy student Jordan said.

"I’m pretty speechless. I didn’t really set my eyes on the World’s, I was more focused on the nationals. We will get there and see how we do.”

Competing at the Paris Olympics in 2024 is a realistic goal, Jordan said.

Ireland's Clare Cryan competes in the final of the Women's 1m Springboard Diving event during the LEN European Aquatics Championships at the Duna Arena in Budapest on May 11, 2021. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP).

The upcoming Games is also on the radar of 21-year-old Harper, who represented Great Britain at the 2013 acrobatic European championships before switching her focus to diving.

"I definitely had people saying ‘You are quite old to be starting this’. The average age people start is eight,” said Harper, a relative late bloomer having started aged 13.

This World Championships will be her biggest stage yet.

“I’m very happy about qualifying, that’s what I was hoping for going into nationals,” said Yasmin, who attended High Storrs school.

"I will definitely be very nervous, but I’m quite excited to be doing something as big as that.”

Jordan and Yasmin are also in contention to represent England at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.