Merewether-born-and-raised Olympic diver Sam Fricker continues to make a splash out of the pool, building a massive TikTok following and committed to making a difference on the environmental front.
Fricker has just returned home to Sydney after competing as a part of the Australian diving team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“To compete in the Olympics has always been a dream of mine, so to find out I qualified for Tokyo 2020, it really was a dream come true,’’ Fricker said.
As a child, Fricker attended Hunter Sports Centre at Glendale, where his passion for athletics and gymnastics ignited.
“I have so many great memories of training and competing at Hunter Sports Centre. It is where I learnt the basics of what I do today,’’ he said.
Fricker attended Hunter School of the Performing Arts in Broadmeadow for Drama, and after school each day he and his mates walked from HSPA to Lambton Swimming Pool.
“I started diving when I was in primary school. I found it quite easy to transition from athletics to diving with the skills I was taught as a child from trampolining,’’ he said.
He began to take diving seriously from the age of 12, competing in local and regional diving competitions.
Fricker’s passion and determination has continued to grow under coach Thomas Rickards, who also hails from Newcastle, supporting Fricker inside and outside of the diving pool.
“My coach has always been there for me. He knows how to calm my nerves before a dive and helps me clear my headspace,” Fricker said.
Due to the COVID outbreak in Sydney, Fricker and the rest of the Australian diving team travelled to Brisbane for pre-training for the Tokyo Olympics.
“The training leading up to Tokyo was intense,” Fricker said. “The hours were long, we had many early starts, and the schedule was crazy.
“With social distancing measures in place, my coach and I were the only ones allowed in the pool at a time. It made it really tricky with all of our hectic schedules.’’
COVID changed the Olympic experience too. No family or friends were able to attend for support, which resulted in the Olympians rallying together to support one another.
“The atmosphere around the Olympic village was incredible. Everybody was so respectful of one another, all doing the right thing being COVID safe,” Fricker said.
Fricker, who finished in 28th place, said he was disappointed with the performance.
“I know I need to work on my confidence and try not to let my nerves get the better of me,’’ he said.
Fricker and the other members of the Australian diving team returned home via Howard Springs in the Northern Territory for their mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“Quarantine was pretty good overall,” he said. “I was able to communicate with my team in neighbouring bunkers. It wasn’t until towards the end of the second week when it started to get tough as I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and was busting to get out.”
He flew home to Sydney via Adelaide.
“I could not wait to go home and see my family, my girlfriend, and pat my dog,’’ he said.
Outside of the diving pool, Fricker commits much of his time to environmental causes.
“When I was 16, I watched a viral video of a turtle swimming with a straw stuck in its nose. I knew then and there I needed to do something to protect these harmless creatures,’’ he said.
At age 17, Fricker established a company creating “eco-friendly solutions to single-use plastics”.
The company, Sam’s Straws, sells wheat straws and other enviro-friendly products.
“My team and I are working with suppliers and a merchandise team to speed up production of more straws and other enviro-friendly products to continue spreading our message of protecting our oceans, one straw at a time,’’ he said.
Sam’s Straws are 100 per cent biodegradable, 100 per cent natural, disposable, compostable and organic, and can be purchased at samsstraws.com.
Chances are, if you’re a TikTok follower, you may already be familiar with Fricker’s work.
He has more than 1.2M followers, and counting.
“My younger sister got me into it, actually. I thought it was just for kids,’’ the affable 21-year-old said.
Fricker started posting videos of himself diving, then when the Olympics began, his fan base increased rapidly.
“I have now expanded the types of videos I post, which include me hanging out with my friends and girlfriend, my Olympics adventure, and my business.’’
You can follow Fricker on TikTok.
With the Olympics done and dusted, Fricker wants to dedicate his energy to his environmentally friendly business and returning to the diving pool.
“I am really looking forward to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year and the Paris Olympics in 2024. I also want to continue promoting my business and get the message out there about single-use plastics.’’