MONTICELLO, Ind. -- Amidst their busy summer travel schedules, Purdue diving alumni David Colturi and Steve LoBue made time this month to return to the places where their journeys to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series began.
Before flying to Copenhagen on June 18, Colturi and LoBue spent the week of June 9-15 at Indiana Beach and the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. Having already competed in France last month, they're also scheduled to dive from cliffs and platforms 28 meters (91 feet) above the water in places like Portugal, Italy, Boston, Wales, Rio de Janeiro and Thailand in 2013.
"I'm super big into the culture," LoBue says. "I really enjoy learning about a new culture, trying the new local foods and drinks. The opportunity to travel presents so many more opportunities and opens so many doors. You meet new people and make so many connections."
By finishing among the top five on the 2012 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, they earned automatic berths for the tour this year. Fellow Purdue diving alumnus Kyle Mitrione is also expected to be a wild card entry for the Boston tour stop in August.
"It's nice because Red Bull has a pretty cool schedule," Colturi says. "We get about a week in each country, including at least a day or two to just acclimate and get rid of the jetlag. They try to plan some type of sightseeing adventure. We get to experience the local culture, try local food and drinks. And if there's anything special of the place we're at, they try to highlight that and take us around."
Indiana Beach is an amusement park located on Lake Shafer, about 30 miles north of the Boilermaker Aquatic Center on the Purdue campus. The Indiana Beach Ski Team is billed as the longest running water ski show, dating back to 1959. Among the elements in the Ski Team's performance area is a 21-meter (70 foot) platform located no more than 40 yards from the Indiana Beach boardwalk. Colturi and LoBue both credit their experiences performing stunt dives within the Ski Team show as a transitional gateway between their college diving careers and the world of high diving and cliff diving.
Colturi and LoBue both excelled from the 10-meter (32 foot) platform during their Purdue careers. As the height and stakes increase on an international stage made possible by the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, the most significant change for the divers is the entry into the water. Whereas traditional competitive diving features the competitors entering the water with their hands first, the additional distance in cliff diving necessitates going in feet first.
"It's definitely nerve racking going up there for the first time; your knees are shaking and your heart's pounding," Colturi says. "But once we get used to the height and start doing some normal dives, it really kind of comes together and you just go with it." He added that there are thousands of platform divers, and even some gymnasts, who could excel in cliff diving once they overcome the mental aspect of the change in height and entry.
In an effort to just keep diving after he finished his Purdue career in 2007, LoBue was part of a stunt show in China for a year before becoming part of an aqua theater performance on the Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Sea cruise ship. He said he had the opportunity to concentrate on diving again on the cruise ship show and performing from the 10- and 14-meter platforms was another key step in his transition to cliff diving.
Colturi and LoBue should be in Europe for the next six weeks. Along with the three stops on the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series tour (Denmark, Portugal, Italy), there are often times invitational meets during open weekends in the tour schedule. An exhibition competition of cliff diving is also being planned for the FINA World Championships, set for July 20-28 in Barcelona. Proponents of cliff diving are working toward getting the sport incorporated into the Olympic program in time for the 2020 Olympics.
LoBue won the September 2012 Cliff Diving World Series event in Wales and was the runner-up in the first two stops of the tour (France and Norway). He lives in Florida where he is diving coach at Pine Crest, a private K-12 school where the current Boilermakers have held their winter training trips. The New Jersey native was a four-time All-American for the Boilers from 2004-07.
Colturi finished third in 2012 Cliff Diving World Series stops in Boston and Oman, his top showings along with his event victory in the preseason qualifier in Australia. He lives in Ann Arbor where he works in a cardiopulmonary academic research lab (ECMO) at the University of Michigan. The Ohio native was a seven-time All-American for the Boilers from 2008-10.
The 2012 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series tour stop at Fan Pier in Boston Harbor drew a crowd of over 23,000 spectators. It was the only urban stop of the 2012 tour. The majority of the competitions are held along scenic coastlines and at lakes.
The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series follows the traditional high diving format and is a mix of the rules from FINA and HAD (High Diving Alliance). Divers hand in their four planned dives the day before the first day of competition. The list consists of two required dives of a maximum degree of difficulty of 3.6 and two optional dives assigned a degree of difficulty computed from the HDA table. These dives are scored by five high-diving judges.
Colturi, LoBue & Mitrione at a tour stop on the 2012 Cliff Diving World Series