In Trinity news this week, Year 10 student Sam Fricker, who is a rising star in the diving world, recently competed with the Australian Diving Team in the 23rd FINA International Grand Prix in Rostock, Germany, finishing a commendable 18th for the 10-metre platform event.
Coach Vyninka Arlow, 1998 Commonwealth Games Gold Medal winner and veteran of two Olympic and two Commonwealth Games, said Sam is the hardest working athlete she has ever coached and that is why he has gained Australian team selection so quickly. “The Rostock competition was an extremely high-level competition and it was a fantastic experience for Sam to learn from, and gave him a chance to really be a part of the diving world,” commented Vyninka.
Having started diving when he was just 11 years old Sam said he became interested in the sport because, “a girl I liked was doing diving, so I started too.” It was a wise decision – his background in gymnastics helped him to win a regional title and a Schools National title in his first year of diving, while his drive to succeed has continued to propel him forward. “Sam had intensity and focus and was determined to achieve his goals even as an 11-year-old,” said Sam’s mother, Toni Fricker.
Competing in one and three-metre springboard, 10-metre platform, and synchronised diving, Sam said he enjoys the challenge of the 10-metre platform most: “For me, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward when you get it right,” he commented.
Clearly committed to the sport, Sam trains for up to 27 hours a week working five mornings a week on strength, fitness and dry board training, supported by six sessions a week in the pool practising one-metre, three-metre and 10-metre platform dives – he is in the pool every weekday afternoon and on Saturday mornings. Asked what his favourite thing about diving is, Sam’s competitive streak shines through: “Winning, and going from 60 kilometres an hour to zero.”
When it became clear that Sam had a natural talent and passion for the sport he, along with his mother, brothers and sisters moved to Sydney from the Hunter region with Sam commencing Year 7 at Sydney’s Trinity Grammar School in 2015. “At 11 years old, I made my first NSW team to compete at National Schools Sport Australia. I had just started diving a bit for fun and was still doing gymnastics. I went into the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) when I was almost 13 and that is when serious training started,” said Sam.
Asked what he sees as the main challenges in his chosen sport Sam replied: “Diving is hard on your body and you have to be strong physically, but it also requires mental strength and a serious commitment if you want to do well. Trying to get every dive perfect is also a challenge.”
Sam said he finds motivation by setting himself short and long-term goals and creating a plan for how to get there. While his major goal is earning a place on the 2020 Olympics team, in the shorter-term he has his sights set on the International Youth Diving Championships in Dresden and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April, and the Junior Worlds, Youth Olympics, Open Nationals, and Elite Junior Nationals later in the year.
Asked who he looks up to, Sam cites Australian diver and 2008 Olympic champion, Matt Mitcham and Chinese diver Bo Qiu (Olympic silver medallist and three times World Champion on 10-metre platform) as his role models. Toni, elaborates: “Sam was training with NSWIS while Matt was still a part of the NSWIS Diving Team and that was really great for him. Sam also has a number of teachers at Trinity who have mentored and encouraged him, along with NSWIS Head Coach, Chava Sobrino and Assistant Head Coach, Joel Rodriguez.”
Sam was the youngest amongst the field of over 100 competitors from 22 countries entered in the FINA International Grand Prix in Germany. “Sam competed against Bo Qui – who is nine years his senior – which was just an amazing experience for him,” said Toni, “I’m proud mostly of his demeanour and composure during the competition. For someone his age to be diving in the company of the three-time world champion along with all the other top men divers is fantastic.”
Despite a hectic training schedule, Sam says he makes sure that he has other interests which include flying his drone, photography and surfing. He balances this with the demand of school: “It’s a juggle, and time management is important,” comments Sam.
The rise to the top hasn’t always been a smooth ride. Sam withdrew from the Australian Elite Junior Championships in 2016 due to a wrist injury. “Winning all of my events at Elite Nationals in 2017 was the most memorable moment of my diving career – I really wanted to do that in 2017 since I was unable to achieve my goals at the event in 2016,” said Sam.
The list of achievements doesn’t stop there. Sam made the Senior Australian Diving Team this year, competed in Dresden at the International Youth Diving Championships as part of the Junior Australian Diving Team, won Silver at the Open Nationals and was named Elite Junior Diver of the Year by Diving Australia at the Elite Junior Nationals in 2017 after winning all four events he entered.
At a school level “Sam is a very proud member of the Trinity CAS Diving Team who have won the Barnett Shield for the past three years,” said Toni. Diving is Trinity’s most successful sport, winning the CAS Diving Shield (now known as the Steve Barnett Shield) 32 times. Trinity has only lost the shield three times since the competition commenced in 1982 to Knox Grammar in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
When asked about his current form, Sam said: “It’s really important to look after your body to avoid injury so stretching, triggering and regular massage are important. I think I’m in good form at the moment.”