Up close with our National Coach for Diving, Coach Dom. Brilliant, talented, dedicated, strict and lazer focussed she is. A true gem and an asset for our nation’s sport arena. She comes form a long and rich history of swimming and academic excellence herself. She takes a “no nonsense” stand with our young athletes to get them to the world’s top arenas in diving.
She says “Yes, my squad is small 4 – 6 divers and we have big goals, we do laugh and have melt down moments and sessions when plans have to change to accommodate the chaos. It is always goal driven hard work that is top of mind. We chase dreams and we stand in honesty about where we are in relation to goals. I always remind them that while they are not training their competitor is – and you can never make up on missed training time. I am seldom nice but if you want to chase the dreams there is no nice until a goal is achieved”.
Bio / Stats
|Name & Surname||Dominique Philippopoulos|
|Date of birth||No ways|
|Place of birth||Johannesburg|
|Qualifications / accolades Sport||Ma Wits University
SA Diving Coach – youth and senior
Rippers Diving club coach
Teacher 19 years Parktown Boys
6 years Kingsmead College
|Twitter – diver_dom
Facebook – Dominique Philippopoulos
Facebook – Rippers Diving Club
Q: You are proudly the National coach for our diving. You have a long and rich history of excellence at top level yourself and working with SA’s youth. Congrats! Tell me a little bit about your own / personal sports career / journey up to this point?
This is probably the funniest part of my career I was a top swimmer from age 10 and achieved many accolades in my primary years. I went to nationals as a swimmer for the first time at 14 in ooppps 1980 and remember going to nationals at Ellis Park in 1979 and the pool was empty and they called in the fire department to fill the pool…..imagine that now the uproar …. I swam and made many of the primary school teams from about 1970 onwards and high school teams with Bill Lamont who called me Smithy as he could never pronounce Philippopoulos. I swam for Zoo Lake swimming club during my youth. My first swimming coach was Bernard Green who coached out of Yeoville Swimming Pool.
If I knew now what I knew then about athlete development and LTAD I may have managed to swim through my growth spurt and keep going but those days there were no reasons for getting stuck and not improving as you mature. Anyway in matric I decided that my school diving team was pretty weak but the swimming team could win girls inter high and so I needed to try dive and make sure we won ….oh the arrogance of youth, but the diving bug bit and I happily left swimming to dive for Gauteng and continued to do so until 2001, when not only did I dive but also played water polo that year at nationals for Gauteng. I finally decided that it was time to not spend every day at the pool …time for me. During that time I coached school diving while studying and then teaching at Parktown Boy. By 2001 I decided it’s time to quit, that lasted 6 months I couldn’t manage to say no to a request to come back and coach in my old coaches place and so back to coaching I went…15 years later…. And 36 nationals this year ….stupid ……
Q: You are currently at Rio for the Fina Diving World Cup. How is it going there? What can we expect for Rio Olympics come August, in general and for your athletes?
Generally it is going well. We have had some issues but is that not the reason for the test meet for the host country to gain experience and to find solutions to situations that one may not have expected to arise. The South African divers have performed well and I think that although they may be a little disappointed in their personal results they have done us proud, Jaimee Gundry placed 31 out of 38 girls on 10m platform and this is a specialized event that always has a smaller field of divers that are brave enough to fly themselves off 10 meters.
In the 3m event Julia Vincent placed 28th and Micaela Bouter 34th out of 54 divers. This was is really impressive in such a large field, however I know that they all wanted to make the semi finals which in diving is top 18 as this would have secured the NOC a place at the Olympic Games.
This does not mean that they have not qualified (and I speak of all of them) only that we will need to wait and find out about available spaces. This information will be sent to the NOC within a week of this event, so fingers crossed.
Q: At this moment – what are you working on / towards with your diving team?
With my junior divers we are working to make the selection requirements for World Juniors 2016, and they are motivated to follow in their team mates steps and compete internationally.
Q: What is you motto as a leader of the Team and in general?
“GO BE BRILLIANT”
Q: What is your favorite part about coaching?
Working with young divers that have passion and no worries in their life except to dive.
Q: If you could change a rule in Diving, what would it be?
I think I miss the grace of the small dives and while I can understand every rationale of not doing them they still kept diving beautiful, not that it is not beautiful but you have to be so strong and so skilled to do hard dives with grace and ease. However watching say 54 divers all do the same easy graceful dives really does not work in the new generation and television audiences.
Q: Besides your professional work as a coach – what do you have a passion for?
Teaching, Photography, Music.
Q: Name the best moment of your coaching career so far?
There have been many I am so privileged, every win, every international competition are all highlights.
Q: Tell me about what you like to do to relax?
Gardening, watching a thunderstorm come in from the patio, reading and learning.
Q: What word of motivation / tips do you have for young athletes?
Just love what you do and do it with all your heart, there is time for sleep later on in life….
That quote: when you want it as much as you want to breath that’s when you achieve.
And I love the quote that goes something like:
Courage does not always roar, sometimes it’s the quite voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
Q: When an athlete / team hits some “hard / difficult” patch in their sports career, what advice can you give them in this regard?
I think this all happens in the coaching, we teach them to achieve to look on lessons and learn from them, for me I am brutally honest so if a dive is not working I prepare the girls to ensure that their expectations are real and achievable. The courage quote also its not how low you go but how high you bounce afterwards.
Q: Would you like to share a little bit more about your faith journey and how it has affected your life / sports?
I just believe we are on this earth with a talent and we need to honour that talent and use it to change lives, to make a difference no matter how small
Q: Besides your diving coaching, what other business ventures / community projects are you involved in?
I teach and in reality my days start at 05:45 at school and end at 19:30 in the evenings. Saturdays are comps and training and yes we dive on Sundays as well. I help in my community where I can, but I was at our community pool the other day (during the heat wave) and we swam and a little child came to me and said ” you swim good you should share”. I’d love to find the time to do some learn to swim for the kids in my community that are at schools without swimming programmes, but honestly the very little time I have I need to spend on me to recharge and do my best with the kids I teach and the divers I coach.
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
Paulo Coelho Manuscripts Found in Accra – I love the Alchamist so decided to buy this at the airprot with Lee Child novel – I love them they are easy reading.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
It’s tough and often thankless and many times you want to quit but that’s when the tide will turn so persevere, chase the dream…..
And Coach Dom, We will remind you of this when you want to give up. Pass your knowledge and passion on to someone else so they can fight the good fight and then you will truly enjoy your garden….
Thank you so much Coach for taking this interview and for all that you do for our Precious Youth. We would like to wish you all the best for the future and for your plans ahead. Blessings!