Lido diver comes up for air

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.’’

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

The diver caught in mid-flight dur­ing Lido open­ing day per­for­mances 50 years ago, Rob Jones reac­quaints him­self with the Lido div­ing pool.

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