Rejina Pyo in Conversation with Team GB divers Emily Martin, Josie Zillig and Robyn Birch
Emily Martin, Josie Zillig and Robyn Birch are the incredible Team GB Divers who opened our Spring / Summer 2022 Runway Show at the London Aquatic Centre. We spoke to the three divers on how they reached such exceptional athleticism, the creative process around choreographing sport, and what they look for in their swimwear.
How did you first get into diving? What made you want to pursue it competitively?
Robyn: My PE teacher gave me a letter at school one day. It was an invite to go along to Crystal Palace for a talent identification in diving. I went along and really enjoyed it and have been diving ever since. At the beginning I saw diving as a fun hobby. As time went on I started to become better and better. I was winning medals and then became selected for the junior British team. I think that’s when I really wanted to see how far I could take this sport.
Josie: I previously lived in America where I was an elite gymnast. I moved back to London and was talent tested at my school - they then offered me a a spot on the diving team if I wanted to take it. I think my gymnastics background benefited me in terms of my strength and flexibility as well as acrobatic ability.
What does a day in in the life of a diver look like? What is your training schedule?
Josie: Our training schedule is usually the same every week; 10 training sessions ranging from early in the morning to the afternoon accounting for roughly 20-22 hours a week. These sessions are usually a mix of dry land, where we practice somersaults and skills on the trampolines or in the harness, weights sessions and pool sessions. We also have ice baths and physio available to spend extra time focusing on rehabilitation before and after sessions.
Emily: We train every day apart from Sunday, during the week we are normally at the pool from 8:30am until 4pm with a break between the two sessions. We train around 25 to 30 hours a week which involves training in the gym with gymnastics skills as well as weights training and diving in the pool.
Robyn: As I am a 10 metre platform diver, I definitely have to mentally prepare for every dive I do off that board. I use mental imagery and go through key focus points in my head before I do the dive. It helps me focus on what I need to do to perform the dive correctly.
Josie: Over the years I have learnt doing a good dive is all about trusting your body, which is never an easy concept to grasp when you’re first learning to dive. My coach and I have always made sure that I have done the necessary preparation for the dive, whether it is on the lower boards or on dry land, meaning I can rely on my muscle memory to complete the dive.
It was just as much a choreographed dance as a display of athleticism. How was the performance choreographed?
Robyn: The three of us divers had to come up with a set of dives that lasted around 5 minutes. We planned the dives so that it would start off on the lower boards and gradually increase the height we were jumping off and the difficulty of the dives.
Emily: We worked together to figure out the timings and the dives. We had never done anything like it before as diving is not normally a choreographed performance. We actually figured it out fairly quickly and came quite natural to us.
Many people commented after the show on how moving the diving performance was, what was it like for you?
Emily: It was an amazing experience and nothing like anything I have ever done before, it was a lot of fun and it was interesting being part of a fashion show during fashion week. Seeing everyones reaction to the diving performance was an amazing feeling, it was extremely humbling.
Josie: It wasn’t like anything I had ever done before. The whole process was quite dynamic compared to usual where we are able to take a break between dives. I really enjoyed that as it meant our dives built with the music and we were able to show off the swimwear at the same time.
How did it feel to perform in the context of a fashion show compared to a regular competition?
Josie: It was completely different to a normal competition as it was more enjoyable and there was no pressure.
Robyn:I had that nervous excitement feeling the whole time. It is a similar feeling to a competition as you want to get your performance right.
Josie wears the Emi Dress Silk Chiffon Pink. Emily wears the Amy Skirt Mesh Print New York and the Bibi Top Mesh Print New York. Robyn wears the Bibi Top Cotton Cloqué Fil Coupé Green and the Yuri Shirt Silk Chiffon Sunset Orange. Photos by Oda Eide.
Emily: In the off season I love to go on holiday somewhere in the sun to enjoy my time off and relax. I also love to send the time with family and friends as I live away from home so family time is important.
Josie: I love going on holiday with my family and friends, its not something that I am able to do during the season as training and competitions are my priority.
How would you describe your off duty style?
Robyn: I’m quite a girly girl, so I love wearing dresses and skirts. Most of my life is spent with wet hair and in a swimsuit, so I do love getting dressed up as I don’t get too very often.
Emily:I love to dress up on the weekends as I spend all week in gym clothes and swimming costumes with wet hair so I enjoy wearing different clothes. I like to change up my style as I wouldn't say I stick to one particular style. However, I always make sure I am comfortable as well as stylish.
Robyn wears the Bibi Top Cotton Cloqué Fil Coupé Green and the Yuri Shirt Silk Chiffon Sunset Orange. Josie wears the Emi Dress Silk Chiffon Pink. Emily wears the Amy Skirt Mesh Print New York and the Bibi Top Mesh Print New York. Photo by Oda Eide.
Josie: Since I am a 10 metre diver the main thing that I look for in my swimwear is support- during the show I felt extremely comfortable and supported in my costume.
Emily: I look for comfort and style, I love to wear bright swimming costumes or costumes with a nice pattern. It is important for diving costumes to stay in place when diving from 10 metres.
What’s your favourite piece from the Rejina Pyo SS22 Collection?
Emily: Bibi Top Mesh Print Market - I love it so much and I enjoyed wearing the print in the morning for the diving underwater photo shoot.
Josie: My favourite piece from the collection was the Emi Dress Silk Chiffon Pink - I recently wore it to a wedding and received so many compliments.
Josie: My A levels start on the 23rd of May so I am currently studying for those as well as training for British Nationals.
Robyn: Next for me is preparing for the National championship at the end of May. I’m looking to qualify for the world championships and the commonwealth games which would be amazing.
What was your greatest achievement? How did it feel?
Robyn: My best win would probably be when I won a silver medal at the Senior European championship with my synchro partner. It felt amazing to be able to stand on the podium and see the British flag.
Emily: My best achievement is getting a silver medal at the Senior European Championships with my synchro partner.