Highgate Men’s Pond swimmers asked to dig deep after diving board damage
Diving board row raises questions about Heath bosses advertising policies
10 August, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
Iconic: Michael Phelps during advertising shoot on diving board in 2008
USED by tricksters to show off their skills to admiring crowds, and serious swimmers to enter the depths in a graceful fashion, the diving board at the Men’s Pond on Hampstead Heath has seen plenty of use.
But its fate hangs in the balance after it was removed earlier this summer.
According to swimmers, Heath managers took it away last year so a TV advertising company could use the jetty to shoot a cereal advert. It was put back, but soon worked loose from its fixings. Lifeguards then noticed cracks appeared in the board.
Now the City of London is considering whether to ask swimmers to contribute towards an estimated £10,000 cost – or face the prospect of no diving board.
Chris Ruocco, president of Highgate Lifebuoys swimming club, said swimmers had been told by Heath sources the board was damaged during the advert film shoot.
He added: “We want the diving board re- instated and we think the City should pay for it. The money they made from the advert should go towards replacing it. It would be terrible if it is gone for good.”
His views have been echoed by United Swimmers Association chairman Robert Sutherland Smith.
He said: “It seems very unfair to ask swimmers to pay for this. But above all, it shows the commercial desire of the City to make money from Hampstead Heath, and at the expense of the
people who use it.”
In 2008, the New Journal took a photo of US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps doing an advertising shoot on the missing diving board.
A City spokesman said: “The diving board at the Men’s Pond had been sent to a contractor for repair work.
“However, the specialist contractor has been unable to guarantee the repairs and consequently it cannot be reinstated.
“Any option that is decided about the diving board replacement will be made in full consultation with swimmers.”