Sports

Former BC Games medal-winner excelling as diving coach

White Rock Divers coach Grant Brehaut sits atop the diving board at South Surrey Indoor Pool, where he honed his craft as a young diver. - Nick Greenizan photo
White Rock Divers coach Grant Brehaut sits atop the diving board at South Surrey Indoor Pool, where he honed his craft as a young diver.
— image credit: Nick Greenizan photo

Grant Brehaut is no stranger to the BC Games.

As an athlete, he competed in diving at the 2000 BC Summer Games in Victoria, and has coached or judged at them ever since.

The 30-year-old Semiahmoo Secondary grad, who now lives in Richmond, will be back poolside again this weekend, coaching the Richmond-Delta Zone 3 team in Mission at the BC Winter Games – the sport switched from summer to winter this year – and admits that when big events such as the BC Games roll around, all the memories of competition flood back.

“I do sometimes get the desire to be back up on the board, diving again,” said Brehaut, whose non-BC Games role is head coach of the White Rock Divers. “But I have a friend who still dives… she’s a bit younger than me, but now I just live through her when she’s competing.”

The 2014 BC Winter Games begin today (Thursday), with events held throughout the weekend. The diving competition is one of the few not being held in the host city, as Langley’s Walnut Grove Community Centre is set to host the sport.

At the 2000 BC Games, Brehaut  – who also spent four years diving at Simon Fraser University and was once ranked in the top-12 in Canada for his age group – won gold and silver medals, though he says as a coach, he emphasizes to his divers that finding oneself on the podium should not necessarily be the only goal.

“It’s one of those events that, as an athlete, gives you a lasting memory,” he said. “For these kids, it’s going to be one of their best experiences in the sport. You get to meet so many other athletes from other realms, from all these other sports. It’s not about diving for your club anymore – it’s about celebrating the sport as a whole, and having fun.”

Though he sometimes longs to get back in the pool as a competitor, Brehaut says he now gets just as much enjoyment and satisfaction – sometimes more – watching one of his young divers improve under his tutelage.

“You put in all of your energy, all your hard work to get a diver ready and prepared, and then it’s in the kid’s hands at the end of the day, and for me, that’s the joy of it – watching them,” he said.

“And it’s not always performance-based. Sometimes you look at one of your divers and say, did they improve? Did they make the corrections they were working on? Sometimes they have a great performance, sometimes they don’t, but it’s about all those little steps.”

Brehaut took up the sport at a relatively old age – he was 15 – and credits much of his success to White Rock Divers founder Bev Boys, a decorated diving coach and international judge herself.

“I picked it up fairly quickly I guess, and by my second year I was going to junior nationals. And Bev really inspired me and really instilled in me a love and a passion for the sport,” he said.

And though he did take to the sport rapidly, he laughs when he looks back to his first season on the diving board.

“I remember Bev once telling me that, when she saw me dive that first year, she wouldn’t have bet 10 cents that I’d continue to go on. But she put in as much time and energy into coaching me as anyone else, and I was able to go on and do well in the sport.”

Boys said though Brehaut clearly had athletic talent – though perhaps unrefined – it was his  dedication that allowed him to succeed.

“He had some talent, but he also just had that drive – he’d put in so much extra time. If you asked him to do 50 (of a certain dive) he’d do 300. And as a coach, you take that drive over any amount of talent every time,” she said.

“He was a real leader back then. I knew he’d make a good coach.”

Brehuat shows the same drive as a coach that he did as a diver, she said, adding that her club is lucky to have him, as over the years he’s turned down numerous offers to coach bigger clubs across the country.

“I’ve had my fair share of offers… and I’m very fortunate to have had those opportunities, but I really love it here. I love B.C., I love this club – it’s where I’m from. And I love the group I coach, and I really enjoy seeing them grow.

“Working with Bev, and the prospect of the new pool (in Grandview Heights)… it makes this club a really strong place to be. I want to stick it out.”

The BC Games’ diving competition begins Friday at 11 a.m., and continues until Saturday afternoon.

For more information on the Games , visit www.bcgames.org

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