We caught up with Olympic Silver Medalist Diver and Oars + Alps Ambassador, Sam Dorman, to learn what it takes to reach the highest level of his sport, in and out of the water.
Sam Dorman spent a lot of time on diving boards growing up in Tempe, Arizona. But it wasn’t until he ditched gymnastics—“I wasn’t very fond of the coaches, so I quit,” he says—and took an organized diving class that he realized it was something he might be any good at. Now, with his short-lived gymnastics career behind him, Dorman lives in Miami with his dog Hank and the silver medal he won in Rio.
What does it take to make it as an Olympic diver? A monastic way of life, for starters.
He starts his morning sessions with a mix of work to keep him healthy: planks, glute leg lifts, and shoulder work, among other things. “Some very specific kind of weird exercises,” Dorman says, laughing. Then what divers call dryland training, which is essentially flips on mats and trampoline work before he dedicates about an hour to skills and drills “to keep your mind right and get your mechanics going.” The afternoon session is where the magic happens: he’ll work on hard dives and get corrections and video replay from his coach.
Dorman’s schedule is simple and stable: Breakfast (three eggs, English muffin with peanut butter, cappuccino with two shots), walk Hank, practice from 10-12, lunch, practice again from 2-4, walk Hank (again), dinner. You don’t win a silver medal by just showing up and doing cannonballs off a three meter diving board. Dorman’s success is built on consistency.
Hank, his handsome vizsla, brings order to a chaotic lifestyle. Whether it’s a walk on the beach or lounging at home after a tough workout, his dog is a welcome reprieve from the insane demands of the Olympic lifestyle.
Stories of athletes' superstitions are legendary, but Dorman doesn’t subscribe to any of that. He’s as cold as ice on competition day. “Go into autopilot,” he says. “Keep it simple.” And the results show: He brought hardware home from his first Olympics.
There’s a picture of Dorman standing on the podium in Rio pointing at his parents in the stands. “I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little kid,” he says. But it was after he put on the opening ceremonies outfit, chanting U-S-A in the hallway of Maracanã Stadium, that his Olympic dream finally hit him. “It was the first time I was like, holy shit I did this.”
But diving is a solitary sport without all the fanfare of, say, the NBA or NHL. As soon as Dorman got back from the Olympics he was back to the grind. He’s got his eyes set on Tokyo in 2020.
And even though he’s got a silver medal at home, it hasn’t changed him. He’s still Sam Dorman. “On the pool deck I still feel like I'm myself,” he says. “And in my head, I'm still the same goofy kid that does impersonations and cracks jokes all day.”