Crystal Palace diver Evie, eight, makes jump to competing for England - with support of Bromley FC dad
PUBLISHED: 11:19 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:19 25 November 2013
Eight-year-old Evie Smith, who has just dived her way into the England team, is just one third of what her mum Charlotte calls "the Bromley diving family".
Evie made the big leap to competing for the national team after finishing second - by a decimal point - at the England Talent Games in Luton this month.
The youngster, a student at Parish C of E Primary School in London Lane, Bromley, was the youngest of 60 entrants to be whittled down to 15.
And her mum admits the constant smell of chlorine in their home, also in London Lane, is a price worth paying, as sisters Florence, 12, and Kittie, six, are diving-mad too.
“They eat, sleep and drink diving,” said Charlotte. “Top of the Christmas list will be a new diving costume or bag.”
Evie was spotted by the Crystal Palace Diving Team during a school PE lesson, having never dived before. The talent spotters look for core attributes and then put children through trials and tests before accepting them onto the programme.
“It was completely out of the blue,” said her mum.
“You have to have the right ability, flexibility and strength, but also immense bravery.”
For Evie, it was the first step to realising an ambition.
“I’m really happy and pleased to have been selected for the England training camp and really proud of myself,” she said.
“I love diving - it’s my dream to dive at the Olympics.”
Divers can reach speeds of 30 or 40mph in dives and with all eyes on them there is a lot of pressure.
Both Evie and Florence are now on the Crystal Palace programme, which combines gym work and pool sessions in 20 hours of training a week.
Charlotte believes they have acquired great focus and determination from their experiences.
And being in the England team will see Evie performing at meets around the country, including two in the Olympic pool at Stratford’s Aquatics Centre.
“She is 100 per cent inspired by the Olympics,” said Charlotte. “All their bedrooms are full of Team GB stuff and they’re even trying to work out which Olympics they could be in.
“They are constantly inspired by Tom Daley and people like that.”
It is perhaps surprising the girls have all taken up diving - because their dad, Neil, has a sporting connection of his own, having played for Tottenham Hotspur, Gillingham and Reading in a successful football career.
Currently assistant manager at Bromley FC, it appears Neil could be responsible for the family’s sporty nature.
“He’s very, very sporty and they have inherited that competitive gene,” said Charlotte.
“We don’t feed them, we just make them do sport,” she joked.
With three gifted daughters in one family, there is bound to be a certain amount of sibling rivalry.
“Florence has worked her absolute socks off to get where she is and Evie started and got a medal straight away,” said their mum.
“But they are very supportive of each other, I remember Florence coaching Evie on the pool side.”
Florence, a student at Bullers Wood School in Chislehurst, recently returned from an international competition in Sweden, while Kittie is just starting to enter her first competitions after turning six earlier this year. She has a head-start on the other two and like them has great potential.
Her mum added: “If she is as hard-working as her sisters, she will do well.”