Would you watch your partner jump 9 stories?
GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — Watching high divers take a nine-story plunge into the waters below is anxiety-inducing enough. Imagine if that person falling through the air is your significant other.
For American Ellie Smart and British diver Owen Weymouth, that fear is a regular reality. The couple fell in love not just with the sport of high diving but also with each other.
Now, not only do they get the adrenaline rush of diving themselves but of watching the person they love most risk their wellbeing to execute a perfect dive.
“Usually, I want him to watch everything,” Smart said.
Weymouth is happy to oblige.
“You can’t make mistakes or else you’re going to go to the hospital,” he said. “When you’re with someone, and you know the risk for them, you want to be there with them all the time.”
That means the two were together when the worst happened last year: Smart crashed from the 20-meter (65 feet) platform, falling on her back and dislocating a rib. With her confidence gone, the injuries and accidents piled on.
“I have come home crying, thinking, ‘I can’t do it anymore, it’s too hard, too scary,’” she said.
Weymouth was the one who encouraged her to push past the fear, staying on deck for all the crashes and hard landings.
“She was landing bad,” he said, “and when you land bad from up there, it hurts.”
Becoming a de facto coach, Weymouth committed to watching all of Smart’s dives to help her progress. The hard work paid off and after a disappointing season Smart earned a bronze medal at last year’s FINA World Cup, punching her ticket to the world championships in Gwangju.
Smart is competing in the women’s 20-meter event this week. Weymouth is diving in men’s 27-meter (89 feet) event.
Despite their fearlessness, the two realize that even they have their limits when it comes to the risks they’re comfortable taking in front of each other.
Recently, Weymouth decided an armstand dive that makes him nervous was simply too scary to do with Smart watching. So, they did what perhaps less adrenaline-seeking couples would do in a similar situation.
“I just left and got a coffee,” Smart said.
Like in every relationship, there are some things it’s just better for your partner not to witness.