Triple Olympian Rebecca Gallantree says the future of diving in Leeds remains as strong as ever as the city’s club enters its second decade at the John Charles Centre for Sport.
Opened 10 years ago this winter, the state-of-the-art facility has been home to one of the most successful clubs in British Olympic sports, producing two Olympic gold medallists in Rio and a host of other major competition finalists.
Gallantree herself dived in Olympic competition in Beijing, London and Rio and won gold medals at both Commonwealth Games and World Championships level.
Now retired, she is part of a wave of Leeds divers who have moved on to pastures new, including her old synchro partners Alicia Blagg and Hannah Starling, and the club’s two leading coaches, Ady Hinchliffe, and Edwin Jongejans, who leaves at the end of this month.
But with Jack Laugher and Chris Mears – Britain’s first-ever Olympic gold medallists in diving after their exploits in the 3m synchro in Rio – still regulars at the John Charles Aquatics Centre, Gallantree believes the future remains bright.
“There’s a lot of change going on but there’s still a lot of talent coming through,” said Gallantree, who retired at the start of the year but is back poolside coaching with the City of Leeds club.
“We’ve got Matty Lee and Lois Toulson who are experienced now in major championships, and, of course, Jack and Chris, who are real standard bearers.
“Plus, we’ve got quite a strong team below that which is really promising and will continue that flow of competitors.”
Gallantree is responsible for nurturing that new crop in her twin role as a coach to the junior elite squad, which sits at the level below funded divers, and as coach of a new talent identification squad which goes into schools to find the next generation.
Aiding her in that recruitment drive is a facility in the John Charles Aquatics Centre that is as impressive today as it was back in 2007.
Gallantree grew up in Essex but relocated in the early 2000s to study at Leeds University and develop her diving with the city club at the Leeds International Pool (LIP).
Gallantree graduated in 2005, but plans to build a state-of-the-art facility helped convince her to stay and have a go at diving as a career.
“Having stuck it out at the LIP, I wanted to get into the new place,” she remembers.
“And it certainly helps now when you’re trying to get young kids into diving.
“I know there are some diving clubs around the country that don’t have the facilities we have.
“The John Charles has played a massive role in all of our careers.
“When you’re training twice a day, five or six days a week, it’s really great to have a nice facility to come to that’s got all the things you need.
“Before we moved to John Charles we didn’t have any dry boards, we only had one trampoline and that was at pool side, we didn’t have a sprung floor – all of which we have now.
“With the gym being right next to the pool it’s really handy training.
“Personally I don’t think I could have stuck it out for another nine years at the LIP.”