When Eryn Bulmer-Barrett talks about her diving career, the discussion always finds its way to the three coaches who guided her throughout.
"I was very, very fortunate to have three amazing coaches who inspired me at different parts of my career," said Bulmer-Barrett, now the head coach of the Kamloops Riptech Diving Club. "It will be pretty cool to be on the other side of it."
Bulmer-Barrett, a two-time Olympian, has been leading the Riptech club since the spring. She has agreed to stay on through the fall session, which opens Sept. 23.
Now 37, Bulmer-Barrett has been out of competitive diving since 2001, a year after she competed at her second Olympics, in Sydney, Australia. In a career that started in Edmonton when she was 13, Bulmer-Barrett also competed at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and won a gold medal in the three-metre springboard at the 1999 Pan American Games.
To win gold at those games, held in Winnipeg, was the one event that stands out most in Bulmer-Barrett's mind.
"I can say with perfect honesty, watching the 2010 (Winter) Olympics in Vancouver, and seeing people have the chance to win a medal in Canada . . . it took me back," she said. "Standing on the podium and watching them raise the flag . . . saying it today gives me goosebumps."
But Bulmer-Barrett was quick to point out that her career was about more than just individual moments and competitions. The lessons she learned still resonate, and she is passing them down to her children, ages 10 and seven, and hopes to do the same with the Riptech divers. She still is involved in sport, not only with the Riptech club, but also PacificSport Interior, with which she is a sport performance co-ordinator.
She began as a gymnast, but a knee injury helped push her onto the diving board at the age of 13. She joined the Edmonton Springboard and Platform Diving Club under David Flewwelling and, as she became more competitive, trained under his father, Herb Flewwelling.
She moved to Calgary in 1994 to train with the Canadian team and coach Hui Tong, now the head coach of the Australian diving team.
"Thirteen is fairly late to start a new sport, but it worked out well," Bulmer-Barrett said. "I had some amazing coaches."
In her new role, Bulmer-Barrett isn't necessarily looking to create Olympians or future champions, but would like to find some new divers and create a program in which athletes can have the opportunity to move forward. Right now, the club has around 50 members, but that number has been as high as 80.
Bulmer-Barrett's first goal is to improve the recreational program. From there, athletes would have the option to go into a pre-competitive development program, and then up to a competitive group.
"We need to see how many new kids we have," Bulmer-Barrett said. "Kids get excited if there are six or eight of them training together, they work together and usually make each other better."
Of course, Bulmer-Barrett isn't looking to turn the world on its ear. The Riptech club still has assistant coaches Asha Atkinson, Ashley Gerbrandt and Kelsey Gwynne, who, according to Bulmer-Barrett, are "awesome and great with the kids."
"They have done an amazing job with the divers in the program to date and I look forward to working with them this season to continue building on what they've accomplished to date," Bulmer-Barrett added. "I am not coming into this club looking to change everything . . . only hoping to add to, and build upon, the foundation already in place."
Registration for the Riptech club is open until Sept. 23, when the divers hit the pool.
To sign up, visit www.riptech.ca, and download the form, or call 250-320-0436.
The programs, for divers between the ages of 5 and 16, run until early December. New divers are required to know how to swim.