To dive for: Interview with cliff diver Anna Bader

The first lady of cliff diving on having the courage to jump.

Anna Bader, of Germany, at the Scaliger Castle prior to the fourth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, in Malcesine, Italy, on July 11, 2013.
© Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

It's been a big few weeks in the world of cliff diving - Germany's Anna Bader, the winner of the first Red Bull Cliff Diving Women's Competition in Italy last month, reveals all...

This Sunday, it's the turn of the men as the cliff divers pitch up in Boston for the fifth stop of the 2013 World Series – for more information visit redbullcliffdiving.com.

RB: What first attracted you to cliff diving... you've got to be pretty crazy, right?!
AB: It’s really hard to explain the feeling. I think on one hand, you’ve the height, the speed, the adrenaline, but on the other hand it’s just something that I like to do and which seems so natural to me. It’s just yourself, you’ve no equipment – it’s just you against gravity and the impact of the water. I think you do have to be slightly crazy – it’s not easily accessible, you have to find the spots yourself. There’s nobody telling you that you should practice this or that – it comes from yourself, it’s on your own initiative and it is part of your personality. I don’t tell everyone I meet that I’m a cliff diver because they probably will think I'm a bit crazy!

Where is your favourite place to dive and why?
I was diving in Majorca and it was really nice. But that’s also because there were many cool people with me. We jumped as well in my home country in Hamburg in 2008 and 2009 which was really fun. I’ve been to lots of nice places already and I’m curious to see more places in the future.

Anna Bader, of Germany, before she dives from the 20-metre platform at the Scaliger Castle during the first Red Bull Cliff Diving Women's Competition.
Performing a handstand on the 20m platform© Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool

What’s the highest dive you’ve done and were you scared?!
The highest dive I’ve ever done was in Polignano which was 24.5 metres and I was very scared! I’d never been up that high in my life. But I knew the dive and that I could do it from lower heights. There was a huge crowd and they were supporting me and I was like, ‘yeah, I want to try it!’ I did it and it was cool... I was safe and that’s the most important thing.

It’s been a big few weeks for women in the sport with the first World Series competition and then the FINA World Championships in Barcelona. How have you enjoyed all the extra attention?
It’s been really good. We've had more people watching – and not just the people who like extreme sports and adrenaline sports. At the same time I do not want to see the sport lose its freedom or the courage of the divers to try something new. I’m curious to see how it will develop and I hope there will be more events to participate in and dive.

Anna Bader, of Germany, celebrates as she is announced the winner of the first Red Bull Cliff Diving Women's Competition, in Malcesine, Italy, on July 13, 2013.
Celebrating the win in Italy...© Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool

How do you see the future for you and other women in cliff diving?
It can follow the same trajectory as the men’s competition, with more female athletes competing and the Degree of Difficulty increasing. For myself, I want to learn new dives and if I can compete at an Olympic Games, man, that would be cool!

Do you think 20m is the limit for female competition? Or can you go as high as the men and dive from 27m?
I think it’s possible to go higher but it’s not my goal. For me, 20m is the perfect height. It’s two-times the Olympic height and you can throw a lot of hard dives. The risk is high enough because if you land wrong it’s going to hurt and you’re going to be injured so I don’t see the necessity to go higher. The higher you go the faster you accelerate so you won’t have time to do many other tricks, it’s just the risk will be that much greater.