SOUTHEND Diving finished third at a national competition for divers of the future.

The ASA England TID Games tests youngsters of primary school age in the gym and in the pool.

It is only the second time Southend Diving has entered the event and coach Bill Clark was pleased with the performance of the 16-strong team.

“We were delighted to finish in third place and would thank all the Southend Primary Schools who have participated in the talent testing program, the School Sports Partnerships, and the team at Garon Park who helped make it happen,” said Clark.

“It is through this joint initiative that we are able to offer so many children the opportunity to try diving both for leisure and potentially for competitive diving.” The gym tested junior divers on the trampoline, springboard and diving-movement specific floor routines.

And their skills poolside, on the 1m and 3m springboards and the 5m platform were scrutinised in the pool.

Seven-year-old Jessie Milham was up against 25 other divers, but her gymnastics background helped her to a gold medal in the gym section in the girls’ nine years and under section.

She qualified for the pool finals in sixth place and went on to secure a bronze medal.

Club-mates Sasha Brook and Lily Widows placed 14 and 17th in the gym respectively and 12th and 15th in the pool in the same age group.

Hudson Lawrence, nine, came away with bronze medals in both disciplines in the boys’ nine years and under category.

The field of 16 included tough opposition from divers from Crystal Palace and Sheffield, but saw Southend’s Regan Humphreys, seven, finish fifth in the gym and seventh in the pool.

The girls’ 10 and over section featured 37 entries, with Southend fielding 10 divers.

Rebecca Kirby took third in the gym and was followed by club-mates Maddy Lister (sixth), Olivia Blower (eighth), Tigi Whitehouse (13th), Lexie Bushnell (14th), Nadia Todor-Ward and Francesca Rogers (joint 18th), Lily Miles (21st), Ceri Ewing and Syreha Allen (joint 26th).

Lister was the only Southend diver to qualify for the six-competitor final after finishing fifth. She put in a brave performance in her first serious competition to finish sixth overall.

Kirby was seventh and Whitehouse eighth, Rogers (17th), Ewing (19th), Blower (20th) Allen (26th), Lily Miles (28th), Todor-Ward (29th) and Bushnell (30th).

In the Boys’ 10/11years gym competitions Colin Longhurst was the only Southend diver in the field of 15 youngsters.

Showing cool composure throughout, Longhurst qualified for the final in fifth place before improving his scores to finish fourth. He had to settle for a well-earned eighth in the pool. The total points for all the divers in both gym and pool at Leeds International Pool then determined the overall team placings, which saw Southend finish third.

“Our young divers put everything into the competitions and made us all very proud no matter where they placed,” added coach Clark.

“Each did their very best and had a great time mixing with divers from all over the UK. “We look forward to the next sessions of testing due to start early this year, and to be able to thank the schools ourselves.”

The Southend Diving programme is operated by Parkwood Community Leisure on behalf of Southend Council at Garon Park, in Eastern Avenue.

Southend Diving regularly carries out talent identification tests in primary schools in the borough to encourage children to try the sport.