Diving Into New Heights
Shining a New Light on Women’s Cliff Diving
by Blair Parke
Ginger Huber, age 43, is a career cliff diver who hopes to one day become a coach for women’s high diving.
She walks to the edge of the platform, mentally going through the routine she is about to do. She readies herself one last time, takes a deep breath, raises her arms and purposely plunges 72 feet (22 meters) into the water below.
Ginger Huber of Dr. Phillips participates in the Red Bull Cliff Diving series.
For some, looking down 72 feet into water is a feat they can’t do, but professional cliff diver Ginger Huber considers it a challenge she finds thrilling and worthy, attempting any chance she gets.
“I didn’t plan on doing this as a career, and I am very aware of how dangerous high diving is, but I love diving and am figuring out every year that I get better and learn a little more,” she said. “I learned I was physically stronger than I thought I was, even in the 40+ group.”
Whether it is diving off the cliffs of the Azores islands near Portugal or competing on American turf in Texas, Ginger has seen a career she never thought could happen, reaching higher heights than ever before.
Started With Shows
After realizing gymnastics wasn’t for her, diving was first introduced as an outlet for young Ginger’s natural abilities to flip. Once she joined a diving club, she realized it was “love at first sight” between her and diving.
“I instantly fell in love with diving, and you couldn’t take me away from diving practice. My parents would punish me as a teenager by saying I couldn’t go to diving practice,” Ginger said, when mentioning her grandfather was a backyard diver. “That cured everything.”
Entering college, Ginger joined the University of Georgia diving team but discovered a new form of diving while on break from training one summer.
“I stumbled upon a diving show that needed a diver for the summer, and I was hired, which marked the start of my professional career,” she said.
Ginger noticed the differences between high diving and collegiate diving, enjoying the challenges high diving brought her and the opportunity to continue diving even after she graduated college.
“I love performing in shows and loved learning different acrobatics, branching out from diving into high diving into aerial acts. I picked up high diving, because if you could high dive, you were much more valuable and could get another contract somewhere.”
Cliff diving became part of Ginger’s professional career in 2013, when the Red Bull Cliff Diving series brought women into the male-dominated sport of cliff diving. Thanks to Red Bull and the FINA diving series, Ginger has competed in exotic locations like Russia, Wales, Abu Dhabi and even the Yucatan, where she dove through a hole instead of off a cliff.
“Every location in the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition is unique, and I like changes and challenges and figuring out what I need to pull out of my diving toolbox for the dive,” Ginger said with a smile.
Knowledge to Share
To prepare for dives that range between 20-22 meters (about 66-73 feet) above water, Ginger breaks her dive down into two dives off lower platforms: one height to practice the start of her dive and the other height to practice the finish. You might typically see her training at Dr. P. Phillips YMCA with Olympic diver/coach Mark Ruiz’s team, practicing in the same location where she first dove off a platform, or at The Bar Method studio strengthening her core muscles.
Diving also requires mental practice of going through the dive, which Ginger learned in college and implements at home to prepare.
“Since I don’t have the height to train on a regular basis, it is a lot of visualization and mental imagery beforehand, while mimicking the movements right before dive competitions,” she said.
Ginger hopes to continue promoting women’s cliff diving as much as she can, holding up to her “I’ll do anything for the sport” attitude by diving nude for the 2014 ESPN Magazine’s Body issue.
“I’m not really a comfortable nudist-type person, but I do only wear a swimsuit, and being older , I just thought to myself, ‘Let it go and enjoy the opportunity,’” she said.
The summer usually has Ginger heavy in diving competitions — between six to eight from June to October — but she has also embraced chances to judge in panels for other competitions and hopes to follow her husband’s coaching lead by becoming a coach for women’s high diving.
But for now, Ginger looks forward to continuing her cliff diving: looking over the edge, drawing in a deep breath, and taking the plunge to show cliff diving isn’t just for men. ♥