“In a sport like this, you have to learn from mistakes and injuries, or you won’t be participating for very long.”
Name: Dan Worden
Occupation: Swim and Dive Coach
Hails From: Oregon
Currently Resides: Hawaii, Island of Oahu
Sponsored by Big Swings on: February 14, 2016
We had a chance to ask Dan a few questions about his extreme Cliff Jumping lifestyle ‒ here is what he had to say:
When did you first start Cliff Jumping?
I began cliff diving when I moved out to Hawaii. I was a member of the University Swim and Dive team, and our squad would go out to Spitting Caves or other cliffs on the weekends for fun. From there, it progressed into a passion. We pushed each other to learn new dives and take them to greater heights.
What was your first time like?
While it wasn’t the first cliff I ever jumped off, the one that got me hooked was my first jump in Hawaii. My team captain led a group of friends to the edge of the cliff, and almost casually, mid- sentence, ran and leaped off. A few minutes later I got the courage to follow; the 45-foot drop seemed to stretch forever in the air. The feeling of excitement was like none other as I saw the water rush up to meet me. From that point on, I couldn’t get enough of that feeling of flying.
How does it feel when you find a new spot?
Exciting! It’s always fun to explore a new spot and test out what you can do there. In the squad I typically dive with, it’s my job to scout the landing area. I also usually do the first dive to make sure it’s safe. So walking up to a new spot, I’m immediately scanning around and getting excited about all the possible jumps there are to go from.
How does it feel when Dan Worden steps up to the ledge to jump?
For me it depends on what dive I’m doing. Front flips are calming as I look out towards the horizon and imagine soaring towards it. Gainers and Backflips tend to be more energizing and invigorating. You gotta step-up, be confident, and go for it.
What’s your favorite type of jump location?
Sheer cliffs and deep water. The best spots are ones above 40 feet that allow you to focus on flips and how you enter the water– instead of thinking about clearing rocks or other objects. Also, I tend to prefer Ocean dive locations over lakes and rivers.
What’s your personal favorite trick to do?
Laying out a gainer is always a great feeling, so I usually lead with that or opt for a double half as my ‘get-in’ dive‒2 front flips with a half twist. The one that I’ve been stoked on recently is my interrupted back double. I do the first flip fast, then kick out straight and just float for a moment before tucking my legs back-in to complete the second flip.
What is your absolute favorite spot?
Spitting Caves is without a doubt the place I feel the greatest connection to. It was my testing ground from day 1‒ making me prove myself, teaching me how to control my movements in the air and also in the water. Even if you don’t feel like jumping, it’s a great place to chill and even watch a sunset. Spitting Caves is my home base and will alway be my favorite spot.
Have you had any serious injuries while Cliff Jumping?
Yeah, I’ve had a few injuries from diving. I’ve popped a lung from landing perfectly flat in the water, and tore both MCLs when impacting the frothy water off a very high waterfall. I’ve also broken an ankle from a wave smashing me into a cliff face after a jump. From all of these, I’ve learned not to panic, and that the body is incredible at rebuilding itself as long as you put the time and effort into rehab and training. In a sport like this, you have to learn from mistakes and injuries, or you won’t be participating for very long.
Do you have anything to share?
One of my favorite quotes is: “People will forget who you are and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” I hope what I do as an athlete, cliff diver, and coach helps to inspire others to push their personal limits of what they thought they could do. Make them feel the same emotion and excitement that I experience during the pursuit of adventure.