They call it “the scoop.”
It’s the special way the high divers lift their legs as soon as they’re waist deep in a pool only 10-feet deep with water after jumping off a tiny platform bolted to a wisp of scaffolding that reaches 80 feet above the ground.
It’s the technique they use to force their bodies to move across the pool laterally instead of slamming into the bottom.
And mostly it works.
But one time in the decade he’s been performing as a high diver with Montreal-based Milord Entertainment, the scoop didn’t work for Simon Sarabura.
He hit the bottom and shattered his leg.
After surgery, though, he was “right back at it.”
And he was at it this week at the Spokane County Interstate Fair, where he and five fellow divers are performing multiple high-energy, nerve-racking shows per day through Sunday, all of them with a healthy dose of respect for the dangerousness that underlies their equal parts showing-off and goofing-off routine in the Sinbad the Pirate High Dive Show.
“We always say, ‘We have to have respect for what we do,’ ” Sarabura said Thursday afternoon, sitting with his five fellow divers in the shade behind the high dive set and beneath a clothesline crowded with drying pirate costumes.
That respect comes with a strong dose of fear, they all agreed.
From 80 feet up, looking into the pool, Niko Dalman said, “It looks like your looking into this cup.”
The cup Dalmon was holding could hold 12 ounces.
And that’s not the only risk. There’s also all the lower dives done two, three, four, five or even six at a time, everyone’s landing spot precisely determined ahead of time.
“It’s not just you at risk,” Sarabura said. “It’s other people.”
Among the other divers is Sarabura’s fiancée, Catherine Delisle. And he says the divers are all close friends who travel together not only from “coast to coast” of North America but also abroad, “following the warm weather” and performing shows everywhere from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Riyahd, Saudia Arabia.
“We’re all doing what we love,” Sarabura said, “so it feels like a paid vacation.”
It was at one of Milord Entertainment’s countless stops in Calgary, Alberta, that a then-19-year-old Sarabura first saw divers do their daredevil act and thought, “That looks pretty cool, and I think I could do that.”
A longtime diver who competed in college, Sarabura approached Yves Milord, the company’s owner, after the show and asked if there was an opening. There was, Sarabura said, “And here I am.”
The rest of the divers have similar stories: a long career as a competitive conventional diver that ended before they were ready to quit.
“For most divers, after your college career, there’s no NFL or NBA, so a lot of people turn to the circus world, the performing world,” Sarabura said.
So there they all were – six highly talented divers in their 20s and 30s – before an overflow crowd on Thursday afternoon, next to the Alaskan pig racing track, dressed in pirate costumes, pretending to be pirates between thrilling high dives, between their last stop in Hamilton, Montana, and their next stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
And Sarabura said that’s right where they want to be, even if some family and friends think he’s “crazy” and that he should “go back to real life and get a day job.”
“But that’s not me,” Sarabura said. “I like the danger factor, the adrenaline high.”
So did the crowd gathered Thursday, especially when Dalman stepped into the air between the tiny 80-foot-high platform and a pool that looked to him like a 12-ounce cup.
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