Inside the court of king Tom: An exclusive look at the British diving team
20:38 GMT, 16 June 2012
Tom Daley flashes the smile that connects with young and old alike. He may be only 18 but it seems as though the teenager from Plymouth has been the poster boy for London 2012 all his life.
And even when taking a break from the British diving team's warm-weather training camp in Majorca, Daley has to deal with the attention of expats and tourists escaping the gloomy weather at home.
In the small resort of Illetas, they all want to be photographed with him.
Ready to make a splash at London 2012: Sarah Barrow, Tonia Couch, Peter Waterfield and Tom Daley
Daley's coach, Andy Banks, an anchor in his life from the day he started diving – now perhaps more than ever following the death of Daley's father, Rob, a year ago – watches him deal with the attention with admiration.
'Tom probably can't remember a time when he didn't have a camera in his face,' says Banks.
'He's grown into stardom and he is absolutely selfless with people.'
Daley is unfazed by the attention.
'It's weird but I can't go anywhere without being recognised by British people,' he says.
'But it's also cool. People are supportive, respectful of what you do.'
Pin-up boy: Tom Daley is quite at home with the attention he is receiving
Even when British consul Paul Abrey visits the team, shortly after they arrived to train at the impressive Son Hugo Aquatic Centre, he has to wait patiently to engage Daley in conversation.
Across the pool, Pete Waterfield could easily have been mistaken for a holidaymaker as he played on a springboard with his two sons, three-year-old Marshall, who was wearing water-wings and a big smile, and Lewis, 11.
In fact, Waterfield is the old man of the team. He won an Olympic silver medal in Athens when Daley was still in primary school.
At 31, Waterfield's participation in a fourth Games, being staged a bus-ride away from where he grew up in Walthamstow, provides him with a realistic chance to retire with another Olympic medal as Daley's partner in the synchronised 10-metre platform competition.
Aches and pains: Peter Waterfield says his body is being mischievous
Waterfield's sons and his wife, Tania, are here as team performance director Alexei Evangulov specifically wants this two-week camp to be part work, part play before the divers lock down for a final, serious assault on their routines when they return home next Sunday.
Waterfield's body is creaking with wear and tear after another hard season spent winning the overall world series with Daley as they competed in Russia, Mexico, China and Dubai.
'My body is being mischievous,' he says. 'I have aches and pains, but nothing that will stop me.'
He shows an X-ray on his phone of the recent injection he had in the side of his neck to relieve the pain of two out-of-line vertebrae.
'When I stretched my neck backwards, a disc hit a nerve and sent a shooting pain down an arm,' he says.
'But two injections have fixed it, the second one under X-ray. 'I am grateful this camp is to let our bodies recover. We're doing more work in the gym than the pool to get our physical fitness back.
'Also, it's great that our sponsors, British Gas, have paid for my boys and my wife to be here as we spend so long apart.'
Golden girls: Sarah Barrow (right) and Tonia Couch won the Womens 10m Sychro final during the recent British Gas Diving Championships
He may have been outgrown by Daley – 'most people get taller than me after a while,' he says – but the disparity in age between the two divers will not cause the upheaval that brought unwanted headlines at the Beijing Olympics four years ago.
Then, Blake Aldridge, partnering Daley when he was 14, invited ridicule by phoning home from poolside before the final round of the competition.
Waterfield expects more favourable headlines to await him and Daley in London as Olympic fever spreads contagiously across the nation.
'Our synchro performances have really come on, our timing is really good now,' says Waterfield.
'We have a real chance of medalling in London together.
'Of course, Tom also has a great chance in the individual competition. This year, he has come on in leaps and bounds. He is making some massive scores now.'
In synch: Barrow (left) and Couch will wow the home crowd at London 2012
Only from the top of the 10m board is it possible to understand the courage that Daley, Waterfield, and women divers Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, the reigning European synchronised champions, and Stacie Powell and Monique Gladding demonstrate each time they launch themselves into the air.
With a normal survival instinct, it seems unfeasible to contemplate descending that far without being in a lift.
Waterfield candidly admits that, with the passing years and after becoming a father, his fear threshold has decreased.
'It tests my nerve now more than it ever did,' he says.
'Maybe it's because of the kids, but I am more scared than when I was younger. One of the dives Tom and I do – a reverse three-and-a-half – means our heads are no more than a foot from the board. There are people who have killed themselves on that same dive.'
Gladding's presence here just days from her 31st birthday is a reminder of the daily risks divers accept.
Battling back: Monique Gladding survived after a head injury and will represent Britain in the 10m-metre board
Sixteen months ago, she fought for her life after cracking her skull against the 10-metre board in a competition in Russia in front of her husband, Steve, who is also her coach.
Now, having been selected for the Games, Gladding faces another threat to her Olympic dream. Evangulov chose Gladding, rather than Couch, to represent Britain along with Powell in the 10m individual competition.
He reasons that Couch will improve her chances of winning a medal if she concentrates on the synchronised event with her long-term partner, Barrow.
Flag bearers: Britain's diving squad soak up the sun in Majorca at their final
warm-weather training camp before the Games begin
Banks, who coaches Couch, as well as Daley, has appealed against Gladding's selection, with the women's fate expected to be known this week.
'It's not ideal,' says Banks. 'It's not personal and I feel for Monique, who has fought tooth and nail to be on the team. But Tonia feels this was a slap in the face and our appeal is based on objectivity. Tonia has proven herself to be the better diver.'
Evangulov, who led Russia's diving team at the past four Olympics, openly explains his selection philosophy: 'It is my conviction that if Tonia did both events she would get two good places, but no medal. It's hard to persuade her in this. I understand this absolutely.
'I knew she would be disappointed, but it can be just a temporary disappointment. But an Olympic medal This is for the rest of her life.'
Evangulov has targeted one to three medals.
Down time: Monique Gladding, Tom Daley and Tonia Couch take a break from training
'I know the history of British diving and this is the strongest team ever,' he says.
'Tom is special. In my time in Russia I had five Olympic champions. Now I dream of Tom becoming the Olympic champion, but whatever medal he takes, he is already a star.'
Barrow, 23, is bubbling in anticipation of performing in London with Couch, her friend since they met, aged seven, at a Plymouth gymnastic club. Daley is her point of reference.
'We all look up to him for the way he's handled things,' she says.
Gold seekers: Tom Daley and Tonia
Couch talk tactics by the poolside
'I ask him more questions than anyone else. He's been through it all and he's a big part of the team.' Daley has long been identified as the standard bearer, not just for the diving squad but as a star of the British Olympic team in general.
'I am scared, excited, nervous,' he says, 'but I can't wait for the Games to begin.
'Me and my dad worked so hard to get here. He's always in my thoughts and I feel him looking after me. It's going to be the greatest Olympics in history.'
British Gas are supporting the British swimming teams and giving away free swims. Visit www.britishgas.co.uk/freeswimming for details.