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Southend makes a splash as stars go off deep end
6:00am Thursday 2nd January 2014 in News
CELEBRITIES have been gearing up for their TV diving debuts by carrying out high-board diving training in Southend.
Several of the stars who will be competing in Tom Daley’s ITV reality show Splash, which starts on Saturday, have been training at the Southend Tennis and Leisure Centre, in Garon Park, for the past fewweeks.
Rugby League legend Martin Offiah was put through his paces on Monday, which was also his 47th birthday.
He said on Twitter before he arrived: “Sat in the car on my way to Southend for another round of Splash training. It’s gonna be a long day.”
Later, he joked he hoped he would be OK in the contest so that the show’s main producer “is not homeless this time next year”.
He then added that he thought he and the Only Way is Essex star Gemma Collins were equal in the competition.
He said: “Great morning diving in Southend with @GemCCollection and the Splash gang. Think we are in are own special diving group babe.”
Local lad Perri Kiely, from dance troupe Diversity, has also been training at the pool.
Perri, 18, from South Ockenden said: “I’ve done a couple (of flips). It was a bit scary and I did a couple of belly flops and back flops and it hurts, but it is really going well.
“No one really knows until you get on one of those diving boards how high it actually is.
You look at it on television and it looks high, but you don’t realise how high.
“The moment you get up there, you just go weak at the knees. It’s very scary.”
Commenting on her training, Gemma Collins said: “Every time I train I have to mentally prepare myself.
“I’ve also suffered from an inner ear infection and vertigo, which has held me back.
“But I’m up for a challenge, so bring it on.”
Tom Daley, who used the diving centre as part of his preparation for the London 2012 Olympics, added: “The talent in this series has been incredible.
“Some of the celebrities are progressing so much more quickly than last year.”
The TV series – which is filmed live at a pool in Luton – begins on Saturday on ITV1.
Derek Jarvis, Southend councillor responsible for culture and tourism, said: “It’s good news the contestants are training in Southend.
“It raises the profile of the town and keeps the Olympic legacy alive.
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