The Year 5 student at St Ambrose Catholic Primary Concord West won silver in the 3-metre springboard diving event at the PSSA State Swimming Championships on March 26 and placed second in NSW, earning a spot at the Pacific Schools Games.
Zara, 10, will travel to Perth in November for the international competition, which is held once every four years in place of a national event.
With diving you’re twisting, turning, jumping. You have to be flexible and very strong.
Zara was spotted two years ago at a diving clinic at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre and asked to join the sport.
“I was with some friends and the coach spotted me and asked if I could join the NSW Institute of Sport diving program and I said yes,” she said.
“That’s what got me into diving. The hardest dive is a front somersault and I wasn’t afraid to jump off the high boards which were seven metres. It was fun to do, and cool twisting and turning in the air.”
Zara, who also plays netball and runs in cross country events, trains with her diving squad for between 15 and 18 hours a week. This includes core work in the gymnastics centre to build strength and balance, and diving to land feet first in a pit lined with foam blocks to practice her form.
Zara said a standing dive gives the person diving between two and three seconds before they hit the water.
“I’m used to it now but sometimes I get a bit scared,” she said.
“In netball you’re running around, but with diving you’re twisting, turning, jumping. You have to be flexible and very strong.
“There are a lot of things going through your mind when you do just one dive, but it’s all worth it at the end.”