Hilo swimming pool gets new springboard
August 16, 2023, 4:11 AM HST
The Hilo HI-Diving club has a new tool that will help its members not make a splash.
Three months ago, a new 1-meter springboard and stand were installed in the northwest corner of the Olympic-sized swimming pool at Charles “Sparky” Kawamoto Swim Stadium in Hilo. It’s the first new diving equipment installed at the pool in decades.
“It was a big deal,” said DJ Freedman, Hilo HI-Diving club coach.
Freedman, who began diving at age 7 while growing up in Southern California and dove while attending the University of Southern California, was the first person to test out the new board.
“Every stand and board has its own personality,” Freedman said. “It was very exciting.”
The new equipment replaced an old springboard in the same location at the pool. That board had a broken fulcrum, a wheel that moves back and forth under the board to tighten or loosen spring tension depending on a diver’s skill and body type, which was locked in place.
There now are two functioning springboards at the pool, providing the club with a backup. It also enables Freedman to add synchronized diving to his curriculum of front, back, reverse and inward dives.
Synchronized diving is “huge fun for the divers,” Freedman said.
The diving can be mixed, with a man and woman performing simultaneously side-by-side. Synchronized diving has become popular at the Olympic and collegiate levels.
It’s extremely difficult to pull off perfectly. Both divers execute different dives with the goal of hitting the water at the same time. The less splash the better the dive. Freedman called it “crazy wow exciting” and said his club members absolutely love it.
The roughly $22,000 new springboard and stand project, including installation, was a collaborative effort between the club and Hawai‘i County Parks and Recreation.
“Parks and Recreation has been very supportive and cooperative of all of our activities and goals and has been extremely generous in partnering with us in purchasing the new stand and board,” Freedman said.
The club raised $10,000 over two years to help pay for the project. That was a combination of personal donations from Freedman, club members and their families, and a grant from USA Diving. Engineering Partners of Hilo also donated its services to provide the blueprint specifications for the board and stand installation.
Freedman said any Kawamoto stadium patrons are allowed to use the old springboard and stand in the southwest corner of the swimming pool, but are asked to refrain from using the new equipment to avoid damage.
The new springboard and stand also make it possible for the club, which Freedman started in 2018 after moving to the Big Island, to add to its roster. The club now has four keiki members, two 10-year-old boys and two 16-year-old girls all from Hilo, but can support up to 10.
Sessions are four times a week at 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and 10 a.m. Saturdays at the pool. Freedman also offers drop-in sessions for those who just want to check out the club. Those serious about getting into diving, however, are encouraged to sign up to participate regularly.
People of all ages no matter where they are from on the Big Island are welcome to participate, even if they are just visiting for the summer.
“The great thing about diving is that you can take it up at any age,” Freedman said in February 2021 after the club returned to practice following a hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “But you have to commit to it to really improve. It requires a huge amount of concentration.”
For more information about how to become a member or what the Hilo HI-Diving club has to offer, contact Freedman via email at [email protected].