On Sunday, December 18 at 11:00 am, the Thunder Bay Diving Club will host Molly Carlson, former club member and one of Team Canada’s Elite National Team high divers, with her partner Aidan Heslop for a high dive demonstration at the Canada Games Complex.

Carlson is a 2022 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series silver medalist—she was also voted Thunder Bay’s best athlete in The Walleye‘s 2021 readers’ survey. On a regular basis, she plummets from 20 metres above Montreal’s Olympic Stadium pool, twisting and tumbling in a carefully planned sequence before hitting the water feet first at upwards of 85 kilometres per hour.

Molly Carlson, photo by Dean Treml and Romina Amato (Redbull Content Pool Photographers)

Carlson, who is also a seven-time junior national diving champion, switched to the 20-metre platform event as a senior member of the national high diving team. “It’s something that you become more comfortable with the more you do it, but it’s always gonna have a level of fear, for sure,” she says. “And then as soon as you jump in the air, it’s just this moment of peace, like you are flying… and then you hit the water, and you just want to do it again and again, and over and over. Because you love it, you know, and it’s just this adrenaline that you’ve fallen in love with. It’s a mixture of bravery, talent, athleticism, [and] knowledge. It’s a sport that really takes levels to [the] extreme and I love it.”

Molly Carlson at the top of the podium on the Red Bull Cliff Diving circuit, photo by Dean Treml and Romina Amato (Redbull Content Pool Photographers)

In the summer of 2021, Carlson upped that extreme nature of the sport another notch by joining the Red Bull Cliff Diving circuit, “You have to be equipped to do what you know how to do in the craziest temperatures and weather conditions,” she says. Off the diving platform, she has founded the BraveGang Community on TikTok, where many of her 2.6 million followers share stories. “Every level of bravery deserves to be celebrated.”

Carlson is looking forward to returning to Thunder Bay, “I am so honoured and excited to return to where it all started,” she says, adding that the local diving club gave her a supportive community to achieve her dreams. “I can officially say that I am living my dream and cannot wait to come back and show my community some new skills. To meet and greet with so many people who supported what might have sounded like an unrealistic dream back in 2008, will be so heartwarming. I hope to inspire the next generation of dreamers from Thunder Bay on this visit.”

She will be joined by Aidan Heslop, a UK diver who competed in the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games. Heslop became the youngest diver ever to compete in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series when he made his impressive debut at age 16 four years ago. “Thunder Bay! I’ve heard so much about this city and cannot wait to visit my girlfriend’s hometown,” he says. “Molly and I met on tour living our athletic dreams. To be able to visit her beginnings and show the world how hard we’ve been working is very exciting.”

Molly Carlson and Aidan Heslop celebrating success on the Red Bull Cliff Diving circuit, photo by Dean Treml and Romina Amato (Redbull Content Pool Photographers)

The event, hosted by the Thunder Bay Dive Club with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, will feature a high dive demonstration, a talk and question/answer session, and local diver participation.

-With files from Bonnie Schiedel

About the Thunder Bay Diving Club

The Thunder Bay Diving Club (TBDC) is a not-for-profit organization promoting physical fitness and the sport of springboard and platform diving to the Thunder Bay community since 1982. TBDC offers programs for people of all ages and abilities; from six years of age to senior national athletes and adults.