At 54 years old, Yves Milord sits atop 80-foot towers preparing to dive at 90 km/h into a 10-foot deep pool; just another day at the office.
Milord is the creator of the Flying Fools, coming to the Penticton Peach Festival in August.
“Our biggest enemy is the bottom of the pool, it’s only 10 feet deep,” Milord said.Originally from Montreal, Milord started his acrobatic life as a trampolinist. He was part of a Canadian team and while performing at a trampoline championship in 1981 he saw his first high-dive show.
They offered him an audition and he joined up, later attending university for physical education and eventually starting up his own dive show, the Flying Fools, in 1990.
He’s been performing ever since.
“I was an acrobat and being able to do trampoline tricks and maneuvers 80 feet in the air was kind of cool, so that’s how I learned the business of high diving,” Milord said.
He was drawn to the high dive for the same reason many people would likely stay away from such heights, the rush of adrenaline.
For divers to survive the daring feat, they must scoop their body entering the water and turning quickly to avoid the bottom of the pool.
“We do hit the bottom once in a while but don’t want to hit it too fast,” Milord said.
He has hit the bottom before, but not too hard, and has heard stories of worse accidents. A reminder of the ever-present danger of the work.
“It’s a challenge and it’s a chance we take every time,” Milord said, noting that he has an estimated 3,500 high dives under his belt.
He said he isn’t stressed out by the prospect of making such a dangerous living.
“I just focus and it’s just second nature, but you can’t forget the danger,” Milord said.
He also works as a coach with Cirque du Soliel. He has been offered full-time positions, but said he’s not done performing just yet.
“I’m having too much fun,” Milord said. “We travel the world doing shows and get paid for it, I’m still able to do it. I don’t have problems physically, so why stop?”
Prior to the death defying, 80-foot high dive at the culmination of a 20-minute Flying Fools performance is somewhat lighter fare, relatively. Springboard diving, tower diving, team diving and comedy diving all take place as well. Olympic-style and acrobatic-style dives are all thrown in the mix, with some “foolish” dives thrown in for fun.
Why the Flying Fools as a moniker? The answer is simple.
“Because we’re fools,” Milord laughed. “We’re flying through the air, doing crazy stuff and at the time it was the correct name for it and it stuck.”
Milord and four other divers are heading to the Peach Festival. The Flying Fools are set to perform twice daily in Okanagan Lake Park during the first four days of Peachfest.
“It’s the perfect family show because it’s got substance, its got comedy and its got the incredible high dive at the end of the show. It’s truly, truly made for the entire family,” Milord said.
The 69th annual Peach Festival is scheduled for Aug. 3 to 7. Visit www.peachfest.com for more information.