The diving season kicks into life on Friday with the return of the British Gas Diving Championships to Plymouth Life Centre.
The three days of action on the south coast throw up a number of exciting events but the team at AquaZone have summed up the five things we’re looking forward to most this weekend...
How close can the pretenders get to Tom?
There’s no debate over whether Tom Daley will reclaim the British 10m Platform title – he’s leagues ahead of the competition in terms of ability and experience and the only question, providing he remains injury-free, is over how high into the 500s he can score with his new 'firework' dive.
But the battle to join Tom on the podium could prove an exciting one. Last year’s champion Matthew Dixon is still only 14 but will look to improve on his score of 398.25 from last year, having since finished ninth for England at the Commonwealth Games.
Crystal Palace diver Kyle Kothari also shone during 2014, landing European Junior gold and World Junior bronze as well as a debut silver at the British Champs.
Meanwhile, a couple of dropped dives denied City of Leeds’ Matty Lee a fair shot at the title last year and the 16-year old will be aiming to make amends to boost his hopes international selection for 2015, having competed across four of the FINA Diving World Series legs in 2014.
Can Freddie stay steady?
AquaZone favourite Freddie Woodward burst on to the senior scene at last year’s British Champs, claiming the 1m and 3m Synchro titles and only seeing his chance of a hat-trick with 3m gold curtailed by illness.
Woodward grew in confidence as the season progressed and ended up winning 3m Synchro bronze with Nick Robinson-Baker at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The 19-year old has increased the difficulty of his list for 2015 and we can’t wait to see him take on Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the individual 3m as well as taking on four-time champion Oliver Dingley – who has switched allegiance to Ireland – in the 1m.
Torrance to boost international aspirations?
City of Leeds’ 16-year old Katherine Torrance was one of the most impressive junior performers of last year, progressing second from the 3m prelims at the 2014 National Cup (before finishing sixth in the final), finishing sixth in the 3m at the World Junior Champs in Russia, and notably winning her first international senior medal with 3m bronze at the FINA Grand Prix in Bolzano, Italy.
Her performance in the final in Bolzano saw her closer than ever to the 300 mark, scoring 297.95, and if she can break 300 in the final this weekend, she’s sure to be in the medal mix.
Barrow v Couch (again)
Synchro partners, best friends and invariably domestic rivals from the 10m Platform, Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch should be the ones to watch again at their home pool in Plymouth.
Barrow achieved the best individual result of her career last summer, winning European gold in Berlin while Couch also scored one her results to finish fourth at the World Cup in China.
The only side note is over Barrow’s disrupted off season and it will be interesting to see how quickly she has been able to build back her form after shin surgery in November last year.
London Diving also offer a couple of very capable rivals to the Plymouth pair in the form of last year’s silver medallist Georgia Ward and former Australian convert and World Championship 10m Synchro finalist Georgia Boyd.
How much more can Jack Laugher improve?
Last season Jack Laugher really took a step forward in the international diving scene, winning three individual World Series medals, two Commonwealth golds, and perhaps most impressively, 3m Springboard bronze at the World Cup in China.
There’s no doubt Laugher will want to peak next season for the Rio Olympics but after such form last season, we can’t wait to see whether there is more improvement in the 19-year old this term.
Laugher skips the 1m in favour of the 3m and 3m Synchro and we’re fully expecting the City of Leeds diver to complete a golden double.