Stars have shown they can dance, box and ice skate, but diving from a platform 20 feet in the air and landing nicely in the water, well, that’s something different.
Nonetheless, 10 celebrities, including comedian Louie Anderson, former beauty queen Katherine Webb and basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, will do just that for ABC’s new reality show “Splash,” which premieres tonight. (ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC News.)
They will have five-time Olympic gold medalist diver Greg Louganis as their dive master and coach. For Louganis, working with these diving novices has been a challenge he has relished.
“Each one is coming to the table with various issues,” he told ABCNews.com. “It’s been great taking that journey with them and addressing their fears, whether it be the fear of water, the fear of heights or the fear of bathing suits.”
Heavyweight comedian Louie Anderson, 59, had all of those fears, though the swimsuit issue, he said, “surprisingly didn’t bother me as much as it bothered other people. I know who I am. They made me nice stuff.”
His bigger concerns, he told ABCNews.com: “I’m not that good of a swimmer, though I could. But diving into 17 feet of water — the depth did make me nervous. Whenever I used to walk past the deep end of the pool, I would walk away from the side.
“I also have a fear of heights,” Anderson added. “So when you look down from 20 feet, and you’re looking at diving into another 17 feet, it’s a little daunting. I had to learn to get over the fears.
“It’s been really difficult but it’s been really fun,” he said of the reality show. “It’s been a great journey, a gift from God. I really love it. Every day I’m getting better.”
“There’s such an array of personalities,” Louganis said. “This is a big risk for them. It’s been great to see their process.”
After training for weeks, five of the 10 celebrity contestants will make their first regulation platform and springboard dives tonight before a poolside audience. The other five will go next week. The two with the lowest scores will go head-to-head in a final dive off.
Like, “Dancing with the Stars,” the contestants will receive half of their scores from the judges — London Olympic U.S. gold medalist David Boudia and Australian Olympic athlete and USA Dive team director Steve Foley — and the other half from the voting audience. Their personal stories and journeys will be highlighted throughout the contest.
Athletes like Abdul-Jabbar and freeskier Rory Bushfield come with certain skills, while reality star Kendra Wilkinson and “Baywatch” babe Nicole Eggert have proven to be athletic, Anderson said. But one person’s athletic abilities could be outweighed by another person’s personality. Then again, how one looks in a bathing suit — former Miss Alabama’s Webb has already made a splash on the internet with her monokini — could be factored in.
“I think anybody could win it, anybody could lose it, nobody is safe,” Anderson said.
“It can be the story, the celebrity, the actual dive,” Louganis added. “You don’t know what is going to strike a chord with viewers or how it’s going to shake out.”
Here are the 10 celebrities who will be competing:
Keshia Knight Pulliam