Lido diver comes up for air
When Rob and Judy Jones came from Taupo to visit Palmerston North family and help out with some house-painting, they didn’t reckon on having their past catch up with them.
Last week, The Tribune published a Windback Wednesday heritage photograph from the Palmerston North City Library’s archives.
It showed the first official dive from the diving tower on the opening day of the Lido on October 15, 1966.
During last week’s boisterous and breezy conditions, a Tribune had blown out of a neighbouring letter box and onto the driveway of the house where the Jones were staying.
Judy just happened to pick up the page of the paper that had the photograph on it.
‘‘I realised it was the Lido,’’ Judy said. ‘‘At first I focused on the lady standing by the pool, and then on the person making the dive, and thought ‘I know that person up in the air - I know those white togs’.’’
The white togs were on the body of 19-year-old Rob Jones, a nationally ranked diver and Manawatu champion, who has been Judy’s husband for the past 44 years.
‘‘When I showed it to him he said ‘Oh, who’s that silly bugger?’.’’
Rob, now 69, knew the Lido well; he spent many years there training, and was acknowledged as one of the country’s top three competitive divers.
‘‘We’ve got a photo of that dive at home, only it’s taken from the front,’’ Judy said.
Rob remembers the moment well and said that the archives photograph just caught the end of the dive.
‘‘I was coming out of a forward one-and-a-half somersault and into a pike.’’
Coached by ‘‘ruthless’’ exmilitary man Frank Greenham, Rob was also a physical instructor for the YMCA. He was part of a larger diving and trampoline acrobatics team that performed stunts off the dive tower during the Lido opening celebrations.
He doubts that what they did with mini-tramps and seven-man pyramids off the high dive platform into the water during the opening would be allowed today.
Diving also seems to have gone out of fashion.
‘‘Now days, no one dives, they just jump and bomb - but then, there are no diving instructors.’’
The diver caught in mid-flight during Lido opening day performances 50 years ago, Rob Jones reacquaints himself with the Lido diving pool.