Zara Tullipan spends twenty hours per week perfecting the moments she spends in the air between the edge of the diving board and the surface of the pool.
The Year 9 student’s dedication to diving is driving her success; she will be representing Australia this month at the International Youth Diving Meet in Dresden, Germany. The competition is considered a segue to the Olympic Games.
Zara’s star has been on the rise since she began diving five years ago, when she was scouted by one of Australia’s National Diving Coaches and invited to participate in the New South Wales Institute of Sport Emerging Talent Program.
A consistent worker, Zara has already taken home a swag of medals at state and national levels, including gold at the 2018 Australian Elite Junior Championships, which helped her qualify for the NSWIS Australian Junior National Squad.
At her most recent competition, the 2019 NSW Open and Age Championships, Zara demonstrated the skill and finesse that has put her in the top tier of athletes in her age group, placing third in the 1 metre springboard and second in the 3 metre springboard, with personal best and qualifying scores for the 2019 Australian Open Championships in both events.
Spectators often marvel at the ease with which competitive divers seem to take flight, but Zara said there is a tumult of emotions beneath a diver’s calm exterior.
“I always get nervous, especially in competitions and sometimes the butterflies don’t go away,” she said.
“My coaches say one of my strengths is my ability to control my nerves and perform under pressure. Last year, in a national competition, the girl ahead of me hit the board and had to be carried out of the pool. Diving after that was nerve-wracking, but I put the incident aside, focused on what I needed to do and went out there and won my springboard event.”
Zara loves sport, especially netball, touch football and water polo, all of which she participates in at Meriden, but diving remains her passion.
“I love the adrenalin rush I get every time I jump off the board,” Zara said.
“I love that I am always learning new dives and pushing myself to achieve new goals.”
The training schedules of elite athletes are notoriously demanding but Zara said being part of Meriden’s Olympus Program is helping her achieve success.
“I train every morning between 6:00 and 8:00am and every afternoon between 4:00 and 7:00pm, as well as on Saturday mornings.”
“Meriden supports me by allowing me access to specialist coaches who help me understand how to perform to the best of my ability and how to recover after competing. The Olympus Program also helps me with time management, so I’m able to maintain my schoolwork while competing,” she said.
The upcoming Dresden event will be Zara’s first overseas competition and it is a long way from the school holiday camp where she first tried diving, but a testimony to both her talent and grit.
Meriden wishes Zara all the best at the International Youth Diving Meet.