Tom Cruise and Sam Fricker at a movie launch.

Sam Fricker, who is in Doha with Australia’s Diving team for the World Aquatic Championships which start this Friday, is making a splash outside of the pool – and his comfort zone – as a podcaster where he grills everyone from politicians, business moguls and everyday citizens for their inner most thoughts.

The 21-year-old, who is fully focussed on ensuring he and his 3-metre springboard synchro partner Kurtis Mathews secure a quota spot for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, said his Diving Deep podcast has taken him into the world of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison; Ben Franklin, the Upper House president in the NSW Parliament, and well known entrepreneur, philanthropist, conservationist and adventurer, Dick Smith.

Fricker, a New South Wales Institute of Sport scholarship athlete whose NSWIS Lights Up documentary was launched on Monday, said he started the podcast with the aim to learn from people who’d spent their lives operating amid the pressure cooker of high performance and high expectations.

When asked to rate his two best questions and his subjects’ responses, Fricker said Scott Morrison’s revelation about what the general public wouldn’t understand about life in office provided him with a deeper appreciation for what politicians endure.

“‘Scomo’ said no-one had ever asked him that question before,” said Fricker with a proud nod. “And he said the security protocols he needed to follow took away a lot of his freedom. 

“Mr Morrison found that quite difficult because he realised you can lose friends or lose touch with what’s going on by being protected all the time. To combat that he’d walk his dog down to the local beach and catch up with mates there.

“He’d also make phone calls to people on the drives to Canberra to keep his boots on the ground, and, for him, going to church also allowed him to keep connected.”

Fricker said he was amazed to learn what really scared Dick Smith during his epic Around the World helicopter flight in 1982-83 was the embarrassment he’d cause the Royal Family if he allowed for himself to be slowed down by poor weather.  

“The weather was so terrible it affected his flight plans and Dick realised there was a strong chance he was going to miss the time he was meant to meet the royals at the palace,” said Fricker.

 “So, he pushed himself through terrible conditions and slept less hours because he was worried by the thought of the embarrassment that would come from having the Queen and her family waiting for him.”

Over the next week Fricker will have serious questions to ask of himself as he and Mathews take on the world to try to secure a quota spot at Paris.

“The question I ask myself every day when I wake up is, ‘can I do it?’” said Fricker, who as a social media influencer found himself interviewing actor Tom Cruise last year.

“It’s a tough question, and it’s a negative one that goes through your head all the time. I think training hard, visualising and doing everything I can go towards reducing the noise of that question.

“I guess it’s a similar concept to meditation in that you’re not saying ‘I’m not going to have any negative thoughts ever again’ because the reality is I’m going to have them. However, I’m going to choose to continue to focus on the positive.

“The next question is ‘am I doing everything I can?’ I ask myself that every day at training: ‘am I doing everything I can?’Is there a better way I could be doing this? I ask that because training hard is crucial, but training smart is better.

“When I get up every morning, I feel highly motivated because I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I feel so more empowered because my thought is ‘I back this’.I know why I ‘m doing this’, and ‘this is my opportunity’.

“I still get nervous. You do a lot of specific training for this event, and while I do feel nervous, I also feel very excited and as prepared as I can be. But, even in my best events it’s a battle . . .  you’re fighting negative thoughts and doing your best to override them.

“And that’s because diving is a tricky sport because you can’t go out and give a hundred percent power because you’ll cook it.

“There needs to be the right amount of power at the right angle with the proper technique to get the correct entry. It’s not even about going 100 percent; it’s about giving certain elements 100 percent here and trying to stay tight there. It’s complicated.”

Daniel Lane, NSWIS   

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