In the latest Road to Tokyo exclusive interview, Kat Torrance speaks to GiveMeSport Women about training during lockdown and preparing for her Olympic debut.
Kat Torrance and her teammates were forced to get creative during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With pools shut for an indefinite period, the divers were left without anywhere to train.
“When we were in the first full lockdown, we couldn’t get in a diving pool for five months,” Torrance explained. “That was definitely massively difficult because diving is kind of a sport where you need the pool, there’s not really a lot of range without it.”
Left with no other option, the 22-year-old turned her dining room into a small home gym. It was equipped with the weight equipment from the City of Leeds Diving Club, where Torrance trains.
“We did lots of weights and we still did two sessions every day just over Zoom with our coaches, and it was just like, run-throughs on the floor, somersaults, lots of conditioning, just basically doing as much as you can without actually doing diving,” she said. “So it was incredibly difficult but it was definitely worth doing to keep us ticking over.”
One year on, and Torrance is getting ready to represent Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She will pair up with Grace Reid to contest the synchronised 3m event. It will be Torrance’s first time competing at the Games, something she is eagerly looking forward to.
“Excited, that’s probably the main emotion,” she reflected. “Then of course, I’ve got all the usual nerves, wanting to do well and things like that. But mainly, I’m just really ready to go and enjoy it as my first Olympic experience.”
Torrance and Reid are joined in the British squad by female teammates Lois Toulson, Eden Cheng, Scarlett Mew Jensen and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix. Both Reid and Toulson competed at the Rio 2016 Olympics, and have been sharing their experiences with Torrance.
“My diving partner Grace, she went to the last Olympics so I’ve been getting lots of tips and advice from her on what to expect and how we can deal with things. Lois is one of my best friends that I train with at Leeds, she’s been before and she was really young, so she definitely had a different perspective on it.”
On the men’s side is Tom Daley, the multiple world, European and Commonwealth champion who is heading to his fourth Olympic Games. Has Torrance been receiving guidance from him too?
“Tom’s been, I think this is now his fourth one, so he definitely knows the rundown and how it all goes,” she responded.
Getting tips and advice from him has definitely been really helpful leading into it.
Torrance is not short of international experience herself, however. She made her Commonwealth Games debut in 2018, finishing fifth and seventh in her individual events and clinching silver in the synchronised 3m event alongside Alicia Blagg.
The following year, Torrance just missed out on the podium at the World Championships in Gwangju. She placed fourth in the 1m springboard final and fifth in the synchronised 3m with Reid.
“I think having the experience is definitely useful and the Olympics is similar to a Commonwealth Games, it’s a multi-sport event, there’s lots of things going on,” Torrance said. “But as this is, for me anyway, the pinnacle of what I’ve always aimed for, I think it will be quite easy to shut out any external factors and really focus on what I really want to achieve when I’m out there.”
Having just missed out on a world medal in 2019, it would be easy to assume that Torrance is hoping to make amends in Tokyo. While she does concede her and Reid have a “really good chance” of finishing on the podium, Torrance revealed her main aim was to enjoy the Olympic experience.
“Just getting to the Games itself has always been like a ‘wow okay I can’t believe I’ve done that’, this is it really,” she said.
“I think going into it, myself and Grace in the synchro event, we do actually have a really good chance of medalling, and that obviously would be amazing to achieve. But for me, the biggest thing I want to do is just go out there and enjoy it.
Really take everything in, and what comes with it comes with it and sort of leave it all on the diving board and have no regrets.
And what of the pandemic and all the restrictions that come with it? Has this changed Torrance’s expectations of what the Games will be like?
“I definitely think so, it’s not going to be the usual Games and there are things that are going to be limited, but at the end of the day, we’re in such a fortunate position to go in the first place, and the alternative is that it doesn’t go ahead at all,” she responded.
“So, I think to just be out there, regardless of the situation, regardless of what we can and can’t do, I’m hoping it’ll still be a really amazing experience.”