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2013.05.30 17:24 tabledresser [Table] IAmA: I am Gary Hunt, 3 times world champion cliff diver. I make a living jumping off a 27m platform into water. AMA
|Would you rather jump into a black hole with the promise of existence in another dimension that may or may not be adapted to incinerate you immediately, or jump into a bucket of fried chicken that is extremely hot, but will cool off after 5 minutes?||I wasn't expecting a tricky question like that. I think I'd take my chances of the extremely hot chicken. I'm pretty happy with this dimension.|
|What's the most painful injury you've had through diving?||I tried to do a front quad with 2.5 twists with a running take off. I didn't have enough rotation and landed with my chest out. I was concussed and had to go to the hospital. I didn't break anything but I couldn't move my neck or my shoulders for 2 weeks.|
|What's the most painful injury you have seen of others through diving?||The worst injury I have heard of was Joey Zuber when he hit the bottom, he broke his femur in two, lost a lot of blood and had kidney failure on the way to the hospital which was a long way away. This was in the wilderness in Colombia so he had to be helicoptered out. It was a close one but he's ok. He's now the commentator for the Red bull cliff diving world series.|
|What's the most enjoyable bit when you dive? Standing on the edge? The moment after you jump of the cliff, the moment you come back out of the water?||For me the best part is just after the takeoff. Before I jump I have so many doubts in my mind. I'm scared, I try and talk myself out of it, but when my feet leave the platform I have no choice but to dive. It's a big sense of relief.|
|Hey Mr. Hunt. Thanks for the AMA. Can you describe what your first high-dive was like? I was terrified using a 10m platform; hard to imagine what 27 is like.||I learnt to high dive in a show in Italy, we had a pool about 8m in diameter and 4m deep. There was a 9m platform, a 13m and an 18m. The first time I went from the 18m I couldn't beleive how small the pool looked. I was scared I was going to miss it. I really had to trust in the training I had done and go for it. After a while I got used to it and then the next show I did was 20m and I went through the same sensations. When I started to do competitions I started with a 24m comp and again when I first went to the top I asked myself why the hell am I doing this? But after that first jump the feeling of satisfaction was definitely worth the anguish. Each step higher gave me the same fears and doubts but with each successful jump you build your confidence. However it only takes one degree from vertical and a body full of bruises to put you in your place and to remind you to respect the water.|
|Have you ever strapped a GoPro to your head and performed a dive? If not, would you be open to it?||I've done it from lower heights with the go pro in my hand, the impact of the water is like hitting concrete from 13m so I'm not sure if the go pro would survive. I'd be up for trying it with somebody elses go pro though.|
|Would you say the most rewarding aspect of this vocation is having a perfect rebuttal to the "if x jumped off a cliff..." maxim?||It hasn't come up in conversation as of yet but I'm ready for when it does.|
|What's the highest height you have ever jumped from, and what would be the highest you would consider going?||I've jumped from 29m for the competition in Furore, Marmeeting. I'd probably go as high as 30m but the impact of the water increases so much with every meter that you go higher, it doesn't really increase the things you can do, just the risk.|
|Do you know the maximum height a human can dive into water from safely?||I know the world record is around 52m but it gets really dangerous that high, most of the divers that tried from this height couldn't climb out of the water on their own.|
|Is that purely due to the impact? How does it feel like, really, when you hit the water with that much velocity? What's the impact like?||It's only the impact of the water that hurts, when you hit the water your feet and legs start to slow down but your upper body is still going at almost 100km/h so your joints compact. It happens so fast that you don't have time to think about it. When you land vertically you shoot throught the water and before you know it you have stopped. When you have a bad landing it can fell like Mike Tyson has just uppercutted you.|
|How often do you listen to the song Holy Diver?||It's the soundtrack to my life.|
|Have you or anyone ever belly flopped?||Yes it does happen, I've ended up in the hospital but with no serious injuries.|
|Have you done any of the cliff jumps in Oahu, Hawaii? I know a few of those have some serious timing you need to get down. Do you consult locals before doing any jumps?||We did a competition on Hilo Island in 2010 but it wasn't like the places where you have to time the waves. I've done a competition in Acapulco where it was more like that. You have to jump 6m out just to avoid the rocks and time your jump with the waves to not hit the bottom. Here it was very important to speak with the divers who knew the right technique.|
|I've seen the cliff jumpers in Acapulco, having to avoid the rocks makes that pretty crazy to watch. But cool in a strange way too.||I did the competition in Acapulco one year. That competition is really a part from the others. It's the only one where you have to jump out to avoid the rocks and you also have to time your jump with the waves. That's just two more things to worry about!|
|Do you enter the water head first? Do you have to hold your hands above your head to lessen the impact?||We always land feet first because your arms can't deal with the impact. It is possible from 27m but you have to protect yourself in such a way that you would always throw up a lot of splash. So in the end it's not worth it.|
|Does it feel really painful every time?||Not in the moment no. When you land vertically you shoot through the water so fast you don't really feel it. However the next day you can feel it, in your back and your joints.|
|You, sir, are more crazy than I am. That being said, congratulations on your accolades. Question - when you dive from that high, how deep to you go into the water?||The water stops you in less than a second, you rarely go deeper than 4m but all the competitions are places with at least 5m to be safe.|
|I imagine that you don't worry about the water temp being too low, what with all of the frictional heating...||It's defintely better diving into warm water. The cold water really slaps your feet when you hit the water.|
|What do you have to do in midair to ensure that you don't get injured (or worse)? Once you're falling, is there anything you can do to fuck it up?||In the air you think about finishing all of the somersaults and twists as fast as possible so that you can focus on the entry. The entry is the point where you can hurt yourself so you try and spend as much time as possible lining your body up for a vertical entry. You mustn't get distracted as a slight lapse in concentration can end up being very painful.|
|What is the point of all the somersaults if the plan is to go in legs first and vertical? It seems kind of counter intuitive to not just pencil dive in...||If you've ever seen the diving at the olympics, cliff diving has the same basics. The more somersaults and twists that you do the higher your degree of difficulty. You are marked out of 10 by 5 judges and your score is multiplied by the degree of difficulty given for that dive. So if you do lots of somersaults and twists you have the chance to get a higher score.|
|How do you mentally prep for the jump? Do you meditate or something?||Everyone prepares differently, I do the normal warmup and stretching but I've also found that juggling gets my brain working well and stops me thinking too much about how dangerous it is and stops me being too nervous.|
|How did you find out you had an aptitude for this? What was your first big jump?||I started when I was 9 in a diving pool and slowly worked my way up to the 10m board, eventually it didn't seem too high anymore so I did a diving show in a little tank with a 20m ladder, I took it step by step and gradually got more confident.|
|Since you started diving have you had noticed a significant reduction in your height?||I don't think I've shrunk but you definitely do feel the impact in your joints the day after.|
|Ever know anyone that hit bottom?||It happens quite frequently but normally just softly. A cliff diver from Australia Joey Zuber hit the bottom hard a few years ago and fractured his femur. His leg was bent at a right angle at the thigh when he surfaced and had to get helicoptered straight to the hospital. He's ok now but he had kidney failure and almost lost his life. As you can tell it's pretty important to check the depth. 5m is the minimum depth for the competitions.|
|Is diving into Boston Harbor as gross as it sounds?||It definitely tastes a little funky. We have a hose to wash ourselves down when we climb out and none of us have gotten sick from it.|
|Hey I'm a little late but thanks for doing this AMA. I noticed you replied to just about everyone, even the same questions over and over, and I think that makes you awesome. Thanks! Also I observed an apparent lack of speedo-related questions in this AMA. Mine: what is your preferred euphemism? Is it banana-hammock? Or is it pickle-sling?||Pickle slim is a new one for me, I thought I had heard them all. Thanks for that.|
|watching the video of the front quad pike with 2 1/2 twists (5185D? That's insane just thinking of it) was one of the most amazing things I've seen! Can't remember exactly where I saw the video where you attempted it. What was going through your mind during that dive the first time you attempted it and have you/will you attempt it again?||My favourite Red bull stop was in Yucatan, Mexico. We dived into a cenote which was really cool. Learning the front quad with 2.5 twists was probably one one of the scariest moments of my life. I hadn't imagined how scared I would be running off of the platform. I did it in memory of my friend Gavin Brown who was killed in a car accident in 2007. His dream was to introduce the running takeoff to the sport and so that inspired me to give it a go. I don't think I will do it again because the degree of difficulty is not worth it. If I don't get the right take off it's going to end up in a trip to the hospital. There are other dives with a higher d.d with less risk. I think the next dive I will do will be back armstand 2.5 with 4 twists.|
|Can you change your first name to mike? Pppllleaaasseee.||That'll be my gift to my first born son. He's sure to find it funny.|
|Now a serious question...what's the highest you've dived from and what is the most you would or are considering diving from? Edit:forgot one of these ?||The highest I have dived from was 29m for the competition in Furore, Italy called Marmeeting. I would like to try a dive over 30m just to say I have done it but jumping from higher heights doesn't really increase the amount of somersaults you can do as you pick up so much more speed. It just greatly increases the impact. We've found that 27m is the optimum height.|
|Thanks for the reply...I know you specialize in cliff diving but if it was in a controlled environment would your max heights be different or do you have a certain limit regardless of conditions?||The world record is 52m, but it's really risky. You go so fast in the bottom part of the dive that you can't really add many more somersaults. 27m is the optimum height, the impact is bearable and you can fit in a lot of tricks.|
|With the locations you're diving in is there a real risk of scraping bottom or do you guys have alot of room?||All of the competitions have at least 5m depth. We very rarely hit the bottom and even if it does happen it's a very light touch.|
|As a world champion, how do you feel towards your fellow divers competing with you?||We are all friends on the tour so there isn't really much rivalry between us. You don't wish for others to make mistakes because that could mean the other diver going to hospital. That said everyone, in the competition wants to win. It's just more of a personal battle that you go through. Your mind is telling you not to dive as it's risky and you have to convince yourself that you know what you're doing.|
|Why?||Because I can.|
|Is there any chance that you were afraid of heights when younger?||It sounds a bit strange but I'm afraid of heights now. If there is water beneath me then there is no problem but looking from the edge of a balcony I can't help but think how it would feel to jump over the edge. It freaks me out so I just stay away.|
|Were you an accomplished 10m diver before you started trying the higher stuff? Or did you come in straight from the acrobatic scene? Also, how are the younger american guys on tour? I know some of them from college diving||I did 10m competitions, I got as far as the European championships but when I started cliff diving I knew that it was the sport for me. The mentality of the divers was more my style and I loved the freedom. Steve and David are really good guys. Steve just stepped his game up by learning a quint half, 5 somersaults with a half twist. (Pretty ridiculous and definitely ballsy)|
|Link to blog.discoverireland.com. Hey Gary! did you jump this in Ireland in 2012? its a purely natural hole isint it? what did you think of it?||Yes I was there, I had dived there in 2009 for a photo shoot and then we had the competition there last year. That place has to be one of the craziest places I've ever dived. The weather was really tough, rain, wind, and I had caught the chicken pox a couple of weeks before so I was covered in spots. It wasn't my favourite comp that's for sure. I spent most of the time huddled in the tent avoiding the rain, I didn't train at all I just did my dives in the comp. I'll definitely remember that place though, I have a poster of it framed on my wall.|
|If you weren't a cliff diver what would you be doing to earn a living? What got you into the sport of cliff diving?||I'd probably be in a circus as I love acrobatics. I started out as a swimmer and then saw the divers in the other pool having a great time so I joined the club. I fell in love with the sport after that and gradually worked my way up and up.|
|I imagine cliff diving to far more masculine than pool diving? Do view it in this way? I also imagine that cliff diving is full of crazy Aussies and Kiwis. Is this an accurate stereotype?||I don't think it's more masculine, but it does take a certain kind of person to jump of the 27m board. The Aussies have had some really good divers... Steve Black, Dustin Webster. There isn't any Aussies or Kiwis in the competition now so it's not very accurate.|
|Are mishaps common in this sport ? Have you witness any ? Any new cliff diving locations still getting discovered or are there a finite number already ?||Mishaps will always happen in a sport like ours, the level of competition is rising fast at the moment and there are a lot of new dives being invented. Most of the divers have had a bad hit and taken a trip to the hospital but usually after a couple of weeks rest you're ready to dive again. There are definitely thousands of cliff diving spots still undiscovered but the Red bull team are still looking and we visit new and exciting locations every year.|
|What's your workout routine? Do you focus on any specific areas of your body for better performance? Thanks!||Ab muscles are very important as the g-force is pretty strong and you need to stay in a tight shape. Also having strong legs for a good takeoff helps. You have to have a good balance of force and flexibility.|
|Has there ever been a moment where you are falling towards the water and think "shit"? I've watched a few cliff diving events and it always astounds me how accurately you can judge wave movements and which bit of the water is okay to hit. How does it compare to dropping off the top diving board in a swimming pool?||It's the same principle only you're going at a much faster speed. You have to react very quickly to line up your body to a vertical position.|
|Thanks for the answer. I'm petrified of heights, but have taken to jumping from high places into water to satisfy that "L'appel du vide" feeling. Hopefully I'll have balls big enough to do what you do one day! So far the highest I've gone is 12M and that hurt when I got the landing wrong.||Just take it step by step and always make sure the water is deep enough and that you're not alone. Take care and have fun.|
|I just looked you up on youtube and I must start by mentioning that you are a bonafide crazy person. Ever thought of like a helicopter jump or something nuts like that?||I've jumped out of a helicopter a few times, once next to Fort Boyard and at a place in France called Tignes. It's pretty scary as the wind is blowing so hard from the rotors but it's an amazing adrenaline rush.|
|I hope youre still here, I think the current record for high diving is 52 meters and the guy who did it managed to literally walk away after swimming back to shore, yet people who dive from 30 meters with a near perfect entry sometimes can't even get themselves back out of the water. How did he manage this? Ever wanted to try and beat his record?!||From 30m you can injure yourself with what seems like a perfect entry. If your legs aren't tight enough together they can separate and go in completely different directions. When diving from 52m just a few degrees from vertical can be really tough on the body. You saw Dana Kunze do a dive from 52m and climb out of the water but that was actually a competition and most of the other guys were carried out of the water on a stretcher. To answer your question, no that doesn't interest me in the slightest. You have to be built like a brick shit house to even consider diving that high and it doesn't really increase the tricks that you could do because you need time to align your body to a vertical position and you are falling really fast at the bottom.|
|The fizzy Red Bull stuff you get in the states is different from the original Red Bull, sold in glass bottles in Thailand. Have you tried both, and which one do you prefer?||I haven't tried the original stuff but I imagine it's like the redbull energy shots you can buy.|
|How do you time your jump? Do you see the water coming while jumping so that you know how much time is left before impact or do you count the seconds?||Most of the time we don't have to time the waves, the only place that I have had to do that was in Acapulco. There we had some landmarks that you could watch and as the wave passed these rocks you counted down from 3 to 1 and when the wave hit the last rock you know you have one second before you need to jump.|
|During the jump, do you see the water coming closer so that you know how much time is left before impact or in other words; do you always know how much time is left?||During the dive you try and spot the water as often as possible (between somersaults for example), to give you as much information as possible on how high you are. When you have done most of the trick, the last somersault is where you try to adjust your body into a vertical position for the entry.|
|What is your opinion on the fact that the US and UK have very few (only three that I know of, all of which are in the US) 10-meter diving platforms open to the general public, as compared to such towers being much more widespread and accessible in other nations (particularly central Europe)?||The health and safety rules in the US and the UK are so strict. A while back there were plenty of pools that were open to the public and now it's almost impossible. Nobody wants to take the risk of injury. All you need is a decent life guard and some simple rules but it seems the diving pools just don't want to take the chance. I would love to see some facilities with platforms that go up to 27m but I think we are a long way from anything like that. Cliff diving is now going to be part of the FINA world championships and hopefully the Olympic committee will take notice and the sport will grow in popularity. Whether or not this will change anything as regards public diving platforms we will just have to wait and see.|
|Is there a favorite speedo? Favorite cliff you jumped off?||I think everyone has a favourite speedo, it's pretty important to have a tight fit, you don't want things to be moving around in there. My favourite place to dive is in Yucatan, Mexico. We dived into a cenote right by the Mayan pyramids.|
|Swimmer here, why are speedos preferred in diving? We have the option to wear jammers or a speedo, do divers?||In swimming it's really important to go through the water as fast as possible. That's not the case in diving. We need to have as much movement as possible in our body, a wet suit would just restrict this movement and make things harder.|
|Link to www.amazon.com I don't see how this effects movement, but if that extra material would mess you up I have a whole new respect for diving.||No this probably wouldn't restrict movement, but it wouldn't benefit a diver either.|
|Is there a formula or 'rule-of-thumb' in figuring out if it's safe to jump/dive from a certain height into a certain depth? Are there any jumps that you will not do that other divers do and vise versa?||We always have a depth of 5m and the platforms are set between 26-28m. Every diver does dives that suit them. At the moment I am the only person doing a front quad with 1.5 twists and a back triple with 4 twists.|
|How do you salvage a dive you know is gonna end up bad, really bad??||As soon as you see the water you try and position you feet towards it and then project your chest with your hands. Feet and hands together doesn't hurt as much as an open chest or back.|
|Thanks. You mean like enter in a fetal position with feet hitting the water first?||Not quite, straight legs and straight arms, entering the water feet and hands together would be the go to safety position.|
|Is it true that you are also a bit of phenomenal juggler? How did this come about. I've heard you can juggle 5 clubs...||I met this divejuggler Brandon Birchak in 2009 in a theme park in France, I fell in love with juggling after watching him easily deal with 5 balls in the air for as long as he wanted. You can check out his show at St Michel in Paris, he'll be the best dressed in the crowd.|
|Why 89ft? Why not 90?||It's set at 26-28m as it's not always easy to build the platform at an exact height, so sometimes it's more than 90ft.|
|Are you planning to drop any more trophies? Link to www.youtube.com.||If they look like I can juggle them, I'll probably try it again.|
|Is it true that shaving your WHOLE body improves your movement in water?||That helps for swimmers but it doesn't really have an effect for divers.|
|What's the worst injury you've gotten and what was the best moment of your career?||My worst injury was in Italy in 2010. I tried to do a front quad with 2.5 twists with a running take off. I didn't have enough rotation and landed with my chest out. I was concussed and had to go to the hospital. I didn't break anything but I couldn't move my neck or my shoulders for 2 weeks. I think the best moment of my career was winning the title of Redbull cliff diving world series champion in 2012. In 2010 and 2011 I had won the series even before the last event but in 2012 I was in second place right until the last dive. I needed a near perfect dive to win and somehow managed to pull it out of the bag.|
|Does Red Bull really give you wings?||How else do you think we do what we do?|
|How do you keep from getting the "head smack" (for lack of better terms) when diving from heights? I do this at least once per summer cliff diving and would love to know how to avoid that pain again.||It could be the way you go in the water with your feet. You need to hit the water in the same position as if you were standing on your toes. If you go in with your toes pointed or with flat feet the water with hit you hard somewhere on your body which could result in this "head smack" that you're speaking of. I hope that helped.|
|Sort of, but I was referring to diving in head first, as I've smacked the top of my cranium on the water pretty hard a few times. That being the case, maybe I should hold my hands more open rather than a pointed position? Oh, and thank you very much for the response!!||When you go in head first you have to make a hole in the water with your hands for your body to go through. You do this by grabbing the fingers of one hand with the other, you should go in the water with your hands grabbed and your palms should hit the water first. This should solve the problem.|
|I just wanted to comment as a fellow diver, probably one of the few on reddit. How is it competing against Artem Silchenko and that fucking insane 6265? im pretty sure thats the dive he does, anyways that dive is insane. also colturis the man, and good luck out there this year!||It's a crazy dive, that's for sure. It was pretty tough to watch him struggling with it last year. I didn't know if I wanted to watch it or not. Now he looks like he knows where he is on it much better and he can control the speed better. I wouldn't try it, he has some big balls!|
|Do you ever smack your back? That would hurt so badly I imagine.||Only a couple of degrees past vertical can give you some pretty nasty bruises. I have never landed completely on my back. I have seen it happen and the divers often walk away from it, but getting back on the platform after a bad hit is really tough.|
|This may be a cliché question, but: How does a belly flop feel from 27m up?||I haven't done one so I can't tell you first hand. From that height you can really damage yourself though. Bruises, cuts, coughing up blood, loss of consciousness. All those lovely things.|
|Is there any place you haven't been to where you'd like to dive? Any divers you get along with particularly well? Also, watched it a bit and it looks amazing.||We've been to lot's of cool places with the Red bull series. We have never been to Africa yet though. I am sure there are many cool places to dive from there. All of the divers get on really well together, we all go through the same anguish, the same nerves and we all have the same fears so that binds us together. I'm glad you like the sport, follow us on the redbull website, I'm sure it's going to be an interesting series.|
|What profession would you get into if you can't cliff dive anymore?||I think I will always like acrobatics so I could imagine myself doing something in a circus. I have always loved the cirque du soleil so maybe I'll try out for something like that.|
|What has been your worst injury? what is the worst injury you've witnessed?||I've been taken to hospital after landing with my chest out and getting a concussion but after a couple of weeks I was back to normal. Joey Zubers injury is the worst that I have heard of. He broke his femur in Columbia and had to be air lifted to hospital, he had kidney failure and almost lost his life. Luckily they got him to the hospital in time but it was a close one.|
|How many concussions have you had?||Just one really bad one in Italy when I did a front quad with 2.5 twists. Normally I get away with some small bruises if I'm lucky.|
|How high can a person actually jump from into a calm pool? Ever think about trying the record?||The record is 52m. What interests me is seeing what tricks I can do, and when you increase the height from 27m you are going so fast at the end that you can't really add more somersaults and twists, you just greatly increase the force of the impact. We've found that 27m is the ideal height.|
|Can you talk a little about what the scoring for dives is based on? Are new tricks being attempted/learned periodically? I suspect there is only so much than can be accomplished before you hit the water.||There is a degree of difficulty for every dive, the more somersaults and twists that you do, the higher the coefficient. I wouldn't say that there is a limit, as new dives are constantly being learnt from the 10m board and so the possibilities from the 27m are pretty much limitless.|
|How hard is it for the eardrums to go from 27m high to 4m underwater?||It's not too bad, we're only down at 4m depth for a fraction of a second so you don't really feel it.|
|What are your greatest fears in life? Does diving help you deal with those fears?||Diving definitely does give you a sense of battling with your fears and constantly pushing yourself to the limits. I guess I fear not finding my potential and quitting before having achieved all that I can.|
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