JACK HASLAM: THE ARC OF A DIVER
We chat to the new face of Urban Jack, ex-British Championship gold medallist, diver Jack Haslam.
What happens when everything you’d built your life around suddenly comes to an end? When the passion that’s propelled you on to winning gold medals in the British Championships and representing your country at the Commonwealth Games with your brother, starts to die?
For 3 metre gold medallist diver, Jack Haslam, what happened was a journey of discovery every bit as tough, and character-forming as his six-day-a-week training regime.
"I will be honest with you - I have found it tough," Jack tells UJ. "Obviously competing at the Commonwealth Games and doing synchro on a world stage with your brother is something that was very special to me. Unfortunately the year after that and my last year was a tough one. I struggled with my back for the whole year meaning I could barely get any momentum in my training. This naturally contributed to me having a poor year competitively and as you can imagine this took the enjoyment factor away significantly. I then finished the season by having hip surgery to try and fix the problem."
Coming through the other side, it was time for the 24 year old to face some daunting questions.
A new direction
“For 17 years, diving was all I knew. I’ve been in the pool practically all my life,” Jack says.
"But towards the end of last year I started to ask myself a lot of questions about whether I still wanted to carry on. There were lots of factors that went into it but I think deep down I knew what I was going to decide".
For Jack, the answer was as easy, and as hard, as he feared. It was time to quit the sport he loved.
Now 25, Jack’s the first to admit that everything following that momentous decision has been hard.
“I just didn’t have a plan,” he admits. “When you make a decision like that, you really need something new to focus on.”
Some TV punditry, well-received modelling assignments and a much-needed extended break in Australia kept the athlete busy – for a while. But, as 2019 slipped into 2020, it was time to focus on the future.
Fit for the future
“I never thought I’d made the wrong call. If I’d have carried on until the next Olympics I’d be 29, and that’s a difficult age to start a new career,” he says. “I’ve just taken this year to get my thoughts together, and think hard about what happens next.”
Modelling, says Jack, is definitely something he wants to keep trying. A series of his portraits bound into a book has already sold out - twice - showing that his army of social media fans haven’t deserted him since he’s left the springboard.
“Trouble is, my brother (fellow diver Ross Haslam) laughs and says my chest is too big to be a diver these days,” Jack says of his new gym-centred fitness routine.
Maybe that’s why Jack’s recently taken to offering his followers at-home workouts to try.
“Fitness is as important to me as it’s ever been,” he says. “I’m trying to stay in the best shape possible. That helps with the mental stuff too. Keeping active lifts your spirits too. So I’m training six days a week still, but doing more strength and weight-based routines as well as football.”
Perhaps fortunately, COVID has meant that the whole world has been on pause too. Time enough for Jack to settle on the next stage in his life – with the support of his Australian-born partner Sakara Bell.
“I’m starting an Accountancy Graduate Scheme,” Jack says. “It’s almost the exact opposite of competitive diving, but it feels right. I’m ready for my next challenge.”
When Jack meets Jack
And while he waits, Jack’s proud to be the face of Urban Jack too.
“You guys have always been behind British Diving, and I’ve really appreciated the support you’ve given me,” he says. “And the products are so good, they’ve been a godsend, especially when I was in and out of the water so much, and then doing a photoshoot the next day!”
Looking positively to the future, Jack’s wise enough not to forget where he’s been.
“I’m only 25, but I’ve experienced a lot,” he says. “I realise that things don’t just happen overnight. Resilience is something I've prided myself on. You have to enjoy the glory, grow from the knock-backs and learn from them both.”
We wish Jack well for the future. And we’ll be seeing a lot more of him over the coming months. Watch this space.