Diving

Maxim Bouchard rebounds from accident that almost killed him

Canadian diver Maxim Bouchard's thick 20-centimetre scar that runs from his left elbow to his shoulder serves as a reminder of a frightening fall that nearly killed him. The 2010 incident also helped him rediscover his passion for the sport.

24-year-old diver overcame long list of injuries following 2010 accident

Maxim Bouchard of St-Constant, Que., is joined on the Pan Am men's diving team by Francois Imbeau-Dulac of St-Lazare, Que., Vincent Riendeau of Pointe-Claire, Que., and Montreal's Philippe Gagne. ((Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images))

Canadian diver Maxim Bouchard's thick 20-centimetre scar that runs from his left elbow to his shoulder serves as a reminder of a frightening fall that nearly killed him.

The 2010 incident also helped him rediscover his passion for the sport.

Bouchard was a rising star at the junior level but his motivation faded when he reached adulthood. He decided to try the professional diving circuit and after a successful exhibition in the U.S., Bouchard was off to the Phillipines to participate in a show at an aquatic park.

"We got there and two days later we were practicing after doing all the setup," he said at a media availability Wednesday. "I went up and was standing on the little platform that was about one foot by one foot. As I jumped, it collapsed.

"I landed in a ditch beside the pool instead of in the pool."

Bouchard was out cold for a few seconds after the 10-metre drop onto hard concrete. When he came to, he surveyed his long list of injuries.

A metal plate and 11 screws were needed to repair his broken arm. He also broke his wrist, needed 40 stitches in his head, back and legs, spent a week in hospital and couldn't lift his hand for six months.

"Everybody there thought I should be dead," he said.

Bouchard made steady progress in his recovery and eventually returned to Canada. After nine months out of the pool, he felt ready to give it another try.

"That just made me realize that diving is what I wanted to do," he said. "I wanted to do whatever I had to do to get back at it."

Bouchard focused on regaining his strength and eventually showed the form he displayed as a junior. The results soon followed.

He won a silver medal at the Puerto Rico Grand Prix in 2013 and reached the Canada Cup finals that year and in 2014. He finished fourth in the 10-metre synchro at last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and picked up his fifth national 10-metre title last May.

Regaining his form

Bouchard battled some injuries earlier this season but is confident he'll be in top form at the Pan Am Games.

"I'm really lucky to be here today," Bouchard said. "And even luckier to be back in the 10-metre (tower competition) doing better than I've ever done."

Diving Canada chief technical officer Mitch Geller said Bouchard is considered one of the best acrobats on the circuit and has a great aerial sense.

"The thing about him is he's a real natural diver," Geller said. "He's got great aesthetics, he's got great precision because he really knows where he is. So what he needed was really sustained, disciplined training.

"So when he came back he made that commitment and he's followed through."

Geller added that Bouchard needs to continue working on his physical power component so he can incorporate more explosiveness into his skillset. The 24-year-old from St-Constant, Que., is joined on the men's team by Francois Imbeau-Dulac of St-Lazare, Que., Vincent Riendeau of Pointe-Claire, Que., and Montreal's Philippe Gagne.

The women's team is anchored by the so-called Fab IV of Montreal's Meaghan Benfeito, Pamela Ware of Beloeil, Que., Roseline Filion and Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., who have combined for 70 Olympic and international medals.

Diving competition starts Friday at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House with the men's three-metre and women's 10-metre preliminaries.

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