British Diving Champs memories with Tom Daley, Grace Reid and Lois Toulson

16 Jan 2020

This week's British Diving Championships in Plymouth mark the 15th anniversary of Tom Daley's debut at the event in 2005.

That was back before Tom burst on to the international scene by reaching the Olympic final, aged 14, at Beijing 2008, and ahead of his three World Championship titles - achieved in 2009, 2015 and 2017.

Still, the Dive London athlete can even now vividly recall the advice his father gave him on the way to his maiden national championship event in Sheffield. 

"I remember being so nervous on my way there with my dad, driving in the car to my first senior nationals," says the two-time Olympic medallist. 

"I remember there being about 17 divers in the competition, and I was saying to my dad, 'I don't know if I can compete, I'm too nervous. What if I mess up, what if I do badly, what if I embarrass myself?'

"My dad then said something to me that would actually stick with me for the rest of my life, and that was: 'If there's 17 people in that competition and you come 17th, if you come last out of all those divers, you are the 17th-best in the whole country - and how cool is that?'

Tom Daley
Tom Daley made his British Diving Championships debut in 2005

"That was something that stuck with me and I thought, you know what, that is pretty cool, to be the 17th-best in the whole country, out of 60 million people!

"So then I went into the competition, I won the under-18 title on the platform and came third in the seniors, so it ended up going quite well. 

"But I remember being so nervous, and then my dad told me that. It transfers to everything, too - World Championships, whatever. If you come last at the World Championships and you come 55th, you are the 55th-best out of every single person on the planet, and that is pretty damn cool."

Interestingly enough, Tom was not the only young diver to receive such advice as he prepared to make his British Championships bow. 

Grace Reid - for whom this weekend's event in Plymouth will bring a seventh senior nationals appearance in nine years - was also given some parental perspective before diving into action. 

"I remember my first nationals were in Manchester (in 2008), and I must have been about 11 or 12," recalls Grace, who won silver medals in the 3m Springboard and 3m Synchro event, with Kat Torrance, at last year's event in Edinburgh. 

Grace Reid
Grace Reid appeared at the Rio 2016 Olympics - eight years after her first British Diving Championships

"My mum came with me and I said to her on the day of my competition, 'I just really don't want to come last'.

"Her reply was: "Well, Grace, if you come last you'll still be 18th-best in Britain, and that's nothing to be upset about.'

"Then when I competed, I did actually come last - but I really enjoyed myself." 

The 2020 British Championships is set to be an eighth on the bounce for Lois Toulson, who made her debut at this level in Sheffield in 2013. 

The City of Leeds diver registered top-eight finishes in each of the Women's 1m Springboard, 3m Springboard and 10m Platform events - but her outstanding memory from that championship is one from after the competition. 

"Looking back on my first nationals, I remember being the top-finishing junior, but because I didn't have a full 10m list, it meant I didn't get a medal - so my mum got me an 'I Love Diving' badge and told me that's my medal," she says.

"I thought that was the cutest thing ever, and my mum has been to every nationals since!" 

So as we count down the days to the first day of action at the Plymouth Life Centre on Friday, we have taken a look at how Tom, Grace, Lois and fellow Olympian Jack Laugher fared on their senior debuts at a British Championship - and what they have gone on to do since...


First senior British Championships: 2005, Sheffield

Results at first senior British Championships: bronze - Men's 10m Platform; fifth - Men's 10m Synchro 

Assorted achievements since: two Olympic bronze medals (London 2012, Rio 2016), as well as Olympic debut in Beijing at 14 years old; three World Championship titles (10m Platform in 2009 and 2017, Mixed Team event in 2015); four golds and two silvers across five European Championships; four-time Commonwealth Games champion (across 10m Platform and 10m Synchro events) 


First senior British Championships: 2008, Manchester

Results at first senior British Championships: 11th - Women's 3m Springboard; 10th - Women's 10m Platform; third in Women's 3m Synchro 

Assorted achievements since: reached Olympic final (3m Springboard) at Rio 2016; World Championships silver in Mixed 3m Synchro; two European titles (in Mixed 3m Synchro and Women's 3m Springboard), plus silver and bronze medals; 1m Springboard gold at 2018 Commonwealth Games 


First senior British Championships: 2006, Manchester

Results at first senior British Championships: 14th - Men's 3m Springboard

Assorted achievements since: Olympic champion in Men's 3m Synchro and silver medal in 3m Springboard at Rio 2016, plus featured at London 2012; one silver and three bronze medals in World Championships; double European champion in 2018 (1m Springboard and 3m Springboard, plus silver in 3m Synchro event); five-time Commonwealth champion 


First senior British Championships: 2013, Sheffield

Results at first senior British Championships: eighth - Women's 3m Final; fifth - Women's 10m Platform Preliminary 

Assorted achievements since: fifth in Olympic final of Women's 10m Synchro event at Rio 2016; World Championships silver in Mixed 10m Synchro (Budapest 2017); three-time European champion (in Mixed 10m Synchro, Women's 10m Synchro and Women's 10m Platform)

You can be in the stands at the Plymouth Life Centre for this weekend's British Diving Championships. Tickets are available HERE.