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Dive Right In

Gay Games VI Divers
(Nov. 6, 2002)
by Jim Provenzano

After yet another full day of swimming events, the Sydney Aquatic Center's Olympic pool cleared out for a smaller yet devoted audience of women and men's Diving. On the same platform where David Pichler competed as one of over 20 out lesbian and gay athletes in the 2000 Olympics, dozens of lesser known yet still talented athletes took the plunge.

Among them were from Christopher Russ from Anchorage, Alaska, having just won gold in 40-44 one-meter category. He was able to put his high school diving experience in Longmont, Colorado to good use.

"I decided a year ago come here, and started practicing again, a couple times a week, worked out, and lost 30 pounds!" he said with pride.

Having come back to diving after so long, he found it easy to return. "You don't lose it. I don't do many new dives. I've also always been out since I was 20, but it's still special to be here."

When asked if diving required a focused concentration, he laughed. "Well, it's the one where I knew I could get medals!"

Greg Cliffe from Melbourne was proud to compete in one-meter, three-meter and synchronized diving, as well as being part of the host team to use the facilities built for the Olympics. "I've had 20 years break, so this is my first big competition."

Being out as a diver means a lot to him. "When you're diving in an elite forum, it's hard to come out, more so today, because of all the money involved."

Cliffe sat on the platform watching the earlier competition medal ceremony with Antoine Giannelli with Paris Aquatique, a team who always offer a fantastic show at the famed Pink Flamingos ceremony.

"I dive as well, from the three meters," Jeannale said. He also dove in Toronto's IGLA meet, with a mere two years diving experience, studying with a French National Team coach, and providing an inspiration for adults hoping to fulfill a dream.

Fire and Water

Despite being described by anyone as dreamboat gorgeous, Team Florida's Greg Testa was able to ignore the flock of photographers snapping pictures of his muscular tanned body as he practiced. He also shook off descriptions of homophobia in diving.

"I think it's one of the gayest sports out there," said Testa. "If you're going to be bothered by homophobia in diving, you're not going to get very far. I've always been out, even in regular competition. The other people can get fucked if they don't like it."

Testa describes his time at Illinois University as "a very homophobic college, but I didn't have problems."

His favourite dives include the 2 pike on three-meters. He's doing synchronized diving with Robin Johansson, a top-ranked diver from Sweden, whom Testa met that Monday.

Testa perfected variations of his dives at Universal Studios theme park, where he performed in a flaming fire suit. But there won't be any flames tonight.

"Well," he laughed. "I don't know about that!"