Archie Biggin: history-making high diving teen heads to Junior Worlds

Images courtesy of Archie Biggin

In simple terms, there has never been a better time to be a high diver, but the years ahead could be filled with even further thrills for athletes who perform their stunning, high-risk, adrenaline-fuelled, death-defying feats around the globe.

Since debuting in 2009 the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships has become the centre piece for the sport, with inclusion in the Fina World Championships, as of 2013, and now LEN Europeans, since Roma 2022, adding extra prestige.

They form key ‘stepping-stones’ towards the ultimate goal of Olympic inclusion and there is a strong belief that dream could become reality for the 20m and 27m diving events at Los Angeles 2028.

British teenager Archie Biggin would be 20 come those Games and an Olympic appearance is a key target for the future, but the teenager is already making history.

In September the Sheffield-based diver, at the age of 14, became the youngest-ever athlete to exit a Red Bull Cliff Diving platform when he leapt from 20m and 22m in Polignano, Italy.

He finished fourth in the 20m competition at the Infinite Drop Ponte Brolla event earlier this year, while competing against adults.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, he will now have the opportunity to test himself against those his own age at Fina World Junior Diving Championships in Montreal (27 Nov – 4 Dec).

LEN caught up with Archie – and his mum Rachel – before the British diver departed for Canada, where he’ll contest the 12m high diving competition.

Q – Hi Archie! Tell us what first took you to the sport of diving?

Archie – “I started diving like because I used to jumping off stuff when I was younger and my dad thought it was a good idea to get into diving because it was a little bit safer!

“He tried to sign me up when I was four and I was too young, but around my sixth birthday I joined Sheffield Diving and have loved it ever since.”

Q – How does it feel to ‘face your fear’ and then deliver a great dive?

Archie – “Just before a dive you get a little bit nervous, but in the middle the nerves for me kind of go and I get a little bit more of a confidence boost.

When I’m going into the water I just try to focus on staying tight to make sure I enter the water safely.

Q – What does it feel like when you’ve you know, when you hit the water and you go you know you’ve done what you hope to?

Archie – “It’s amazing. It feels really good and then when you come out of the water in competition and you have people clapping for you, you feel really good about yourself.”

Q – So the 3m and 10m weren’t scary enough, so you wanted to go even higher!?

Archie – “Haha. I really enjoyed diving from the start and when I was younger I only did the lower jumps, but as I got up to the top it became way more fun. I enjoyed all of the adrenaline!

“I knew about high diving because I’d seen YouTube clips of the Red Bull Series and I thought it was really cool.

“I went to a competition in Plymouth where there was a little high diving workshop with (GB high diver) Aiden Heslop and I really enjoyed it, so I bought back some of that stuff back and introduced it into my high diving training, which Sheffield Diving have been really supportive of.

“I’m coached by Ross (Haslam) and we also have Yasmin (Harper) and Jordan (Houlden), who are all smashing it as divers themselves at the moment too, so it’s a great place to be.”

Q – So how did leaping from the Red Bull platform come about? Perhaps we’ll bring you mum (Rachel) in to help with this one..

Rachel – “We were in touch with Red Bull and he went as a guest athlete to experience an event.

“They were sort of sending us little messages here and there going, ‘how would you feel if we asked him if he wanted to go off the 20 meters? How would you feel if we asked him if he wanted to go for 22m?’

“We just knew straightaway he’d want to do it, he ran to the platform, he was so excited.”

Q – Archie, did it feel natural jumping from that height?

Archie – “Yeah, obviously because it was my first time I was a little bit scared.

“In mid-air it was a bit different because I’ve jumped from 15m quite a lot and from 18 once, so it was quite a big jump up.

“I did feel I was in the air for a bit longer than I should have been which I couldn’t really get my head around and it’s obviously from diving at that height, but it was really fun!”

Archie with diving stars Gary Hunt (right), Rhiannan Iffland and Greg Louganis.

Q – As you’re here Rachel, we should ask – how does it feeling watching your child dive from these heights?

Rachel – “I think when you see his enthusiasm and being so passionate about it that kind of takes any sort of concerns you might have away.

“The safety measures that are in place are phenomenal and they really look after their athletes with the safety boats and divers in the water.

“It’s just amazing to see him, you know, do something that he loves so much.

“It’s hard to get your head around as a parent, but if he says he can do it, then we have complete trust in him to be able to do it, so we let him follow his dream.”

Archie Biggin at Ponte Brolla, International Cliff Diving Championship 2022.

Q – On dreams, Archie, what are your future targets in high diving and perhaps your ultimate goal?

Archie – “Well, the World Junior Championships in Montreal should be really cool and I hope that will be a great experience and I hope that I can do well.

“It’s really cool to look at all the advancements that high diving is making and hopefully, I can be involved in that in the future.

“It’d be great if high diving was in the Olympics, that would be a massive goal for me.

“I’m a long, long way away at the moment, but that would be a dream to do that!”