Reaching new heights

Alumnus performs at Sea World and competes in high diving competitions

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Ginger Huber was so high above the Barcelona harbor last summer that she took comfort from the masts of the tall ships anchored nearby.

“It just seemed like you weren’t all alone up there,” says Huber (BS ’97).

She then stepped to the edge of the 20-meter platform—nearly seven stories high—and dove into the murky water.

Again, Huber was not alone. Three scuba divers waited for her to give them the ok sign. She came up for air after her third dive with a silver medal in the inaugural high diving event at the 2013 World Championships.

“It’s exhilarating,” Huber says of the two-second plummet. “There’s a definite sense of falling and a very hard impact.

“It can feel like hitting a brick wall. If you have your chin just a little bit out of place, it’ll feel like a good punch.”

Huber climbed the 20 meters to the platform from which she dived during Red Bull’s first women’s cliff diving event, held in July in Italy.

As Ginger Fields at UGA, Huber was a member of the diving team, specializing in the 1-meter springboard. Her best finish was a second place in the Southeastern Conference in 1996.

Back then she was leery of anything higher than the 3-meter springboard.

“I didn’t like it. I was just scared of the heights and the impact hurt.”

Now at home in San Diego, Huber performs up to seven times a day in shows at Sea World. She’s the assistant performance manager for the show and plunges from 7 meters, about 23 feet.

“It’s kind of a normal job; it’s just you do unusual things.”

She also competes in the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series, where she has to climb to the 20-meter level from which she dives.

No one is more surprised by her transition to the extreme sport of high diving than her former coaches.

“I would never have expected it in a million years,” says UGA Head Coach Jack Bauerle.

Head Diving Coach Dan Laak adds, “This one came out of the blue.”

Huber started doing “show diving” when she graduated from Chattahoochee High School. When she finished her degree in sociology, an entertainment company recruited her.

She worked her way up—literally—performing her first 20-meter dive at Six Flags Over Georgia into an “itty bitty little tank.”

“It looks like you’re going to miss it,” she says, adding that an even bigger fear is smacking the bottom.

In 1998, Huber performed in her first cliff-diving show at Waimea Falls in Hawaii, and eight years later married fellow diver Chris Huber, who is now her coach.

Huber, who at age 38 calls herself “the grandma” of the team, wants to continue high diving to help the sport grow.

“It’s not to say that 20 meters doesn’t scare the bejeezus out of me,” she says, “because I get up there and I look down and there’s definitely a lot of energy channeling through my body.”

But that’s not what really frightens her.

“I don’t really like being underwater,” Huber says with a laugh. “I’m ok diving and coming right back out.”

 

—Karen Rosen is a freelance writer who lives in Atlanta.