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Diving practice inside the Crystal Palace

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

A member of Crystal Palace Diving Club dives during a training session in London on March 9.

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Crystal Palace Diving Club member Victoria Vincent practices during a training session in a dry diving gym in London on March 9.

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Members of the Crystal Palace Diving Club stretch during a training session in a dry diving gym in London March 9.

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Members of the Crystal Palace Diving Club attend a training session in a dry diving gym in London March 9.

Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

A Crystal Palace diving club member wears a harness during a training session in a dry diving gym in London March 9.

The Crystal Palace Diving Club in London is taking the proverb, "'if you can't beat them, join them" literally by turning to Chinese expertise and techniques to foster Britain's Olympic hopefuls.

"We always had good divers. But I thought that if we wanted medals en masse then we would have to do what the Chinese did," club founder and former world champion Chris Snode said.

Snode made the decision to recruit Chinese coaches seven years ago when London won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics, and now 15 of the approximately 460 children in the program are in the top England talent squad, with their eyes set on Rio 2016. 

The squad is dominated by girls, who the coaches say are more likely to do activities such as gymnastics and dance that complement diving and build up early flexibility. 

"It's harder to find boys," admits assistant coach Chen Yang, shouting advice to the practicing divers from the side of the pool. "They all play football."

That's not a problem China has, he adds, though the desire to perform to an audience and plethora of competitions that are a feature of British schoolchildren's lives are a rare advantage Westerners have over the Chinese. 

-- Reuters

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Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

A member of Crystal Palace Diving Club dives as she is watched by head coach Chen Wen (right) during a training session in London March 9.

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