Nine celebrities decided to find out for themselves.
Stars In Danger: The High Dive airs at 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday, January 9 on FOX. The show features the journey of the celebrities and their quest to learn to dive.
Members of the diving community who were involved with the show were impressed with what the celebrities accomplished, overcame and learned about the sport in such a short time.
“I don’t think they had a clue how technical and how physical this sport can be. Every one of them has a new respect for anyone who dives. They thought what our Olympic team did in London this summer was just amazing,” said Crown Valley Divers coach Curt Wilson, who served as head coach and diving consultant for the show. “(Former NFL star) Terrell Owens is a pretty phenomenal athlete, and it was humbling to him to not be able to do it correctly the first time. He was truly appreciative of how difficult this sport can be.”
The stars (joining Owens are Kim and Kyle Richards, JWoww, David Chokachi, Alexandra Paul, Bethany Hamilton, Antonio Sabato Jr., and Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss) trained for a little more than a week at UCLA, spending a couple hours doing dryland training and a couple hours in the water each day learning the fundamentals and skills that would prepare them for competition. Wilson handled much of the dryland duties and oversaw four others – Jenae Earley, Tory Ishimatsu, Kevin McMahon and Karl Warden – who worked closely with the stars to get them ready for the contest, which was held at the Greensboro Aquatics Center in Greensboro, N.C.
Because the show is called Stars In Danger: The High Dive, at a minimum, the stars had to compete on the 3-meter springboard and the 5-meter platform. Although the goal was to teach a number of different dives so that there would be options and variety on the show, Wilson emphasized the importance of safety first and said the production company sought his advice and never asked anyone to do more than they were capable of.
Wilson said the stars progressed quickly and were eager to learn.
“All of them had a great attitude. Yes, there were a lot of smacks, but they came back and learned the skills they needed to learn. It was phenomenal to see the growth they had over a short period of time. Everyone was learning together and encouraging each other. From day one to the actual competition was remarkable. It’s a credit to everyone – the athletes, the coaches, the production company,” Wilson said.
Four-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Troy Dumais serves as the show’s commentator, explaining the dives, sharing his knowledge of the sport, and possibly performing a dive or two himself.
What impressed him the most was how the stars conquered their fears and didn’t give up.
“When they met me, they said, ‘I can’t believe you do this. This totally freaks me out.’ But, they did it. They were afraid and not sure of themselves, but they did the dives and did them quite well,” Dumais said. “They were willing to try. Yes, they crashed at times, but everybody crashes, whether it’s a celebrity or an Olympian. We’ve all crashed. They stuck with it from beginning to end and did a phenomenal job.”
Clemson diving coach Leslie Hasselbach Adams, one of the show’s judges, wasn’t sure what to expect since the stars had such limited training time before the competition. She said was impressed with what she saw, especially knowing how afraid they were and how well they held up to the pressure of competing under the Hollywood lights and in front of a packed house that included her Clemson divers.
“(The stars) were humbled by the experience. They couldn’t say enough about how much they really respect divers for what they do. They came away with bruises and black eyes during training. They were scared to death,” Hasselbach Adams said. “They had to perform in front of 2500 people while doing a brand new sport, and that’s nerve-wracking in itself. Then you’ve got the fear of heights for some of them, the fear of going in head first for some of them. I was very impressed with what these guys did.”
While he hasn’t seen the final product, Wilson is hoping Stars In Danger: The High Dive is a positive for the sport of diving and shows the feeling of victory and success when conquering fear and learning a new sport. Either way, he’s pleased to see diving in the national spotlight.
“This show has people are talking about diving at a time when it normally wouldn’t even be on their radar. This show puts our sport on people’s minds,” Wilson said.
“The more people who see our sport, the more it can spark an interest in diving. This is putting our sport out there from a different perspective – watching celebrities try it.” Dumais said. “This can aid in growing our sport and can help with potential sponsors if we can show that diving has worldwide appeal.”
Hasselbach Adams also said the show can help educate people about diving.
“I think it’s great. It showcases our sport and lets the public know how difficult diving really is. The top divers make it look easy, but it’s not. There are a lot of crashes and bruises,” she said.