The Clanfe Olympics had their 9th edition this summer. Since this diving event started, 1373 participants have dove off of the 3 meter into the Ansonia baths in Trieste. This video and story is courtesy of Francesco Chiot, an Italian-born photojournalist who now makes his home in New York City.
Saturday, the 30th of July 2016 – It is a sunny and torrid day at the Ausonia baths, a white complex built-in the thirties on the edge of the city waterfront and now stuck between a naval yard and the ferry terminal to Turkey. At the water polo pool a tiny girl, she might be nine, walks the 3 meter springboard wearing a pink swimsuit and a bandana on her face, mimicking some kind of summer bandit. She stops for a moment at the edge of the board, then jumps, in a plastic pose resembling a skydiver, arms and legs stretched behind her. At the very last moment, she folds up in a quick movement, hitting violently the water and sending a wide splash a couple of meters in the air. A crowd of a few hundred people of all ages cheers and clap together while the jury shows some 5s and some 4s, giving the little athlete a chance of victory. She just performed a successful Clanfa.
Clan is a dialectal word coming from a small town on the very cusp of the Adriatic sea, Trieste. While strictly speaking a Clanfa is a horseshoe, it indicates a particular kind of diving, practiced for fun from boy and girls of all ages on the rocky shore of Trieste’s Sea.
The Clanfe Olympics, running since 2008, have taken the informal and somehow goliardic nature of jumping in the water from the beaches of Trieste and have distilled it into a fun driven athletic competition, where it’s not how gracefully and professionally you perform a canonic dive, but how much funny and witty you can be, how articulate you can perform a Clanfa and how much splash you can make when entering the water. Unlike the ongoing proper Olympics, the more the better.