Kiev (LEN) – Never ever in the 91 year-old history of European Championships Switzerland could pick a medal in diving. Now it happened in Kiev. Michelle Heimberg surprised everybody with a silver in the 3m springboard event with 293.25 points. The 17-year-old diver from Geneva was only beaten by the local hero Anna Pysmenska (303.30).
“It was really great surprise which we absolutely never expected”, these are the words of a very happy coach Christina Favia. Since last September she is mentoring Michelle Heimberg who originally lived in Wettingen, in the area of the Lake Constance. Then she moved to another lake – Lake Geneva. At the age of 12 there was a move for her, too: from gymnastics to diving.
But Heimberg, who can still compete among the juniors, is not the only rough diamond among the Swiss divers in Kiev. Beside her, Vivian Barth, Jonathan Suckow, Guillaume Dutoit, Jan Wermelinger and Simon Rieckhoff could also clinch medals at the European Youth and Junior Diving Championships since 2013. Heimberg had a silver in the 3m and a bronze in the 1m from last year’s junior Europeans held in Rijeka.
“The gold of Jan Suckow at the 2013 Europeans in Poznan in the youth 1m event was a kind of door-opener for us”, Christina Favia said. “And now we are living our dream.” Partly thanks to her innovational training methods s she added dancing, gymnastics and ballet to the training programme. “We have not too many possibilities for practice”, she pointed to the lack of dryland training facilities in Geneva. “But we like to bring the ballet on the springboard”, she explained her philosophy of diving.
Back home she is very much supported by Michael Geissbühler, the former secretary of the LEN Technical Diving Committee as well as by Carmen Stritt-Burk and her husband Hans-Peter Burk, all well-known faces in the diving family. In addition to Geneva as one of the main diving centres, there are three more in the country: in Lausanne, Zurich and Aargau.
And there is another well-known person responsible for the development of diving in Switzerland. In Lausanne, Pavlo “Pasha” Rozenberg works as a coach. He was born in Ukraine, competed under German flag and earned a bronze medal in 1m at the 2009 European Diving Championships in Turin.