Talented Tia finds a balance between sport and science

Tia McGarry in training at Pond’s Forge (Credit: James Leighton-Burns)

Diving’s Ukrainian Cup takes centre stage later this month and TASS athlete Tia McGarry is hoping to make a splash after winning her first call-up to Great Britain’s senior squad. We caught up with the talented Sheffield teenager.

TASS: How excited are you to be representing GB in the Ukrainian Cup?

TM: I am SUPER excited! This will be my first senior international event and my first time representing Great Britain which has been a massive goal since I started the sport aged 11.

TASS: How have your preparations been going for the event?

TM: Preparation has been intense. Last week I performed my platform list three times compared to the week before when I did it only once. The training is intensifying massively which will hopefully pay off for my event in a few days’ time.

TASS: What is the overall standard in women’s diving right now?

TM: Women’s 10m platform diving has a lot of new and upcoming talent and a lot of experienced divers who perform on a world class stage for GB regularly, so the standard is really high.

TASS: What are your goals this season and beyond this month what are the challenges that lie ahead?

TM: The goals this season are to learn all the new dives needed for the British Diving Championships and to secure a spot in the finals event in Ukraine, which I will have to qualify for in the preliminary round. The challenges which I will face are coming to terms with the mental aspect of learning new dives and also honing my technique as this has to be perfect when learning a new dive. My main competitions will be the 2019 Ukrainian Open Cup 2019 and also the 2019 British Diving Championships taking place in Edinburgh towards the start of June.

TASS: Is Tokyo 2020 a longer-term target and what will you have to do in order to make the plane for Japan?

TM: Due to my course being highly intensive, and diving being such an unpredictable sport in terms of success and due to injury rates, I haven’t planned that far ahead. However, in order for me to make the plane I would have to be diving at a higher standard than I am now, gain international level experience and have a much more competitive list by increasing the degree of difficulty of dives.

Tia McGarry during a training session with Sheffield Diving (Credit: James Leighton-Burns)

TASS: How important is the support you receive from TASS at Sheffield Hallam University?

TM: The support I gain for TASS is so important to me as it helps me to showcase my passion for the sport using their media. It helps me stay fit and strong with the nutritional and strength and conditioning support. It makes sure I can attend all lectures and plan for revision using their amazing lifestyle coach and I always have someone to talk to thanks to their sport psychologist. Knowing all of this support is based on how I am performing in diving really motivates me and encourages me to be the best I can be.

TASS: Can you point to a specific example during the last two years where TASS support has benefitted you?

TM: Every Tuesday we get two TASS coaches who come to our training venue (Ponds Forge) and they go through a weights programme with us. This is really helpful as it is straight after our training session so we don’t have to travel to get this support. It’s on hand and the sessions can be tailored to our needs and disciplines within the sport, due to them being able to have close contact with the coaches. This has really aided my progress on platform as it has allowed me to get stronger and use my legs a lot more effectively.

TASS: Do you enjoy the challenge of being a dual career athlete – juggling elite sport with a degree?

TM: I have always enjoyed doing two contrasting careers, as it allows me to switch between the two. Biomedical science is a great course as it has barely any relation to my sport and therefore it doesn’t interfere with what I do when I am training. It is very difficult at times – and some months are busier than others – but I have too much passion for them both to give up either.

TASS: When you contributed to the TASS video you spoke of your ambitions outside of diving – are you still keen to pursue a career in medicine or science?

TM: Yes! Before Christmas I applied for a trainee position at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital in the haematology department. It was my first ever interview and I was super nervous but I managed to secure myself a spot for September. So as long as everything goes well, I will hopefully be a full-time biomedical scientist within two years which would be an absolute dream as I love the NHS!

TASS: Beyond your sport and your studies what do you enjoy doing to relax?

TM: To relax, I usually spend time with my friends or family as I barely ever get to see them. This involves a nice Sunday dinner round the table talking about what we did in the week, to sitting down watching a film or even going on a nice quiet walk.

TASS: How important is downtime important for a dual career athlete?

TM: Downtime is essential, as you need a break from all the work and training. This is what will keep a dual career athlete level headed and not too stressed. This time is personally important for me, as this is what keeps my passion for the sport on-going. Without this time, I think about my dives too much or over-analyse my work and things become more difficult for me – rather than easier.

TASS: What do you love about diving and why should young people give it a try?

TM: I love the family you gain from doing such an intensive sport. I also teach a group of children and seeing their passion increase every day for the sport, as a result of what we do as coaches, really makes me happy and excited about the developing future of the sport. I believe that young people should give diving a try,  as it is such a beautiful sport to watch and it’s super important to stay active and fit. Who wouldn’t want to do that by flipping and doing tricks into water?