Elite athletes dive to new heights at the Cliff Diving World Championships in Boston ICA

The international group of divers, including world champions defending women and men, jumped, swirled and twisted from two boards looming at 89 feet for men and 69 feet for women over the harbor in front of the Institute of Contemporary Art. their exploits It seems to defy the laws of physics and physiology.

Male divers at the Red Bull Cliff World Diving Championships at the Institute of Contemporary Art.Barry Chen / Globe Staff

“I probably would have done it with proper training,” said Lauren Deshong, 33, looking at the top of the dive.

“I wouldn’t do it even with training,” her husband said. Not a chance,” said Brian DeChung, 39.

Ea, 5-year-old Salem’s family, agreed, shaking her head in disapproval.

Not so for Jason Yaroslavsky, a 26-year-old port resident.

“It would be great to have a regular person like me there to show how awesome these people are,” he said.

For professional athletes, the question of whether they would do it has always been answered. The question they were facing under the clear sky and sun on Saturday was whether or not they were could Do it.

The stakes were high.

From the USA Millie Carpenter competes in the Red Bull Cliff Women’s World Diving Championships at the Institute of Contemporary Art.Barry Chen / Globe Staff

The Cliff Diving World series, currently in its 13th edition, launched on Saturday in Boston, the only US stop, before continuing across Europe through the summer and culminating in Sydney Harbor in Australia in October.

“I think the first event is really important for divers because it kind of sets the scene for the year,” said Owen Weymouth, a British diver who did not compete on Saturday but will do so later in the series. “If you can go out and be one of the first runners in the first event, I’d say you have a massive mental advantage for the rest of the season.”

After the first two rounds were held on Friday, the only American competitor for the world series, 26-year-old Eleanor “Eli” Smart, of Minnesota, returned in sixth place. But Weymouth, 23, who works with Smart, said before the competition began on Saturday, this was a tight group at the top.

Smart was planning on performing the toughest dive she’s ever tried in competition: the hands-off twist diving, which she’ll eventually do successfully.

“Elie feels a good mix of fear and excitement, I think,” Weymouth said. “Perfect balance.”

On the men’s side, a change of guard was imminent.

“For the past decade, Gary has been almost untouchable,” Weymouth said, referring to Gary Hunt, the Franco-British diver who is a legend in cliff diving. Hunt is a nine-time world champion and title holder.

But on Saturday, the newcomer was vying to overthrow the king.

At just 20 years old, Brett Aidan Hislop was rocking the cliff-diving world, and at the start of Saturday, he was second, ahead of Hunt. “It’s the little gun,” Weymouth said.

Going from a spectator wondering if you’ll jump an 11-story ramp to doing so is a long climb. But Maria Smirnova, a resident of Lincoln, Massachusetts, who aspires to join the series in the future, was trying.

Aidan Hislop competes in the Men’s Red Bull Cliff International Diving Championships at the Institute of Contemporary Art.Barry Chen / Globe Staff

26-year-old Needham Hay and a University of Rhode Island graduate dove in college and began jumping from radio towers into 9-foot pools after college as part of a mobile business.

“It took me about three months to gain the courage to climb the tower,” she said. But it’s 90 percent She said. She slowly worked her way up, overcoming that fear. “I can’t say it was easy. There were a lot of collisions. There were a lot of tears.”

On Tuesday I found out she would be one of eight “wild card” divers in Boston. Wildcards are invited to participate in one of the stations of the World Series, but not the entire tour.

Walking the board on Saturday, some divers pumped up the crowd, while others made the Sign of the Cross. Then a bell rang and silence fell on the hundreds of onlookers gathered around the Museum of International Civil Aviation. For a few seconds, the divers stood motionless on the edge of the board.

“There is no past. There is no future,” said Smirnova. “You are literally in the moment.”

That moment came for Hislop on his last dive, the last of the day. By then, only Hislop and Hunt were in the race. Hunt had a near-perfect performance, and Heslop needed to be outdone. him too.

When the steps came out, Hunt smiled, still in the water after diving. Hislop won. Hunt was beaten but not defeated.

“I’ve always looked forward to it,” said the newcomer of Hunt, whose 39th birthday she’s ashamed of.

Earlier that day, Smart had her moment as well. She quietly walked to the edge of the diving board. Red Bull’s regulators outfitted some competitors with heart rate monitors, and the Smart’s were barely breaking 100 beats per minute. “It’s like ice,” said the announcer.

Smart gave his thumbs up. She made herself stand on her hands and was not pushed after a moment. It was the quirky dive that worried her – a dive she had never tried before.

she It flew through the air spinning and twisting for what seemed like an eternity, then slid into the water with just a tiny bit of drizzle.

In the end, it wasn’t enough to put her on the podium; It came in fourth place. Canadian Molly Carlson and Australian world champion Rhiannan Evland took first and second places.

But given that, Weymouth answered the question of whether his fiancée was able to master such a difficult dive. “I nailed it,” he said.


Alexander Thompson can be reached at alexander.thomppson@globe.com