Xantheia Pennisi — Cliff Diver

Xantheia Pennisi — Cliff Diver

We caught up with Beforeyouspeak Ambassador Xantheia Pennisi to find out what motivates her, and how she musters the courage to throw herself down some of the highest cliff dives in the world! Xantheia is a professional cliff diver, starting out as a gymnast she quickly became interested in high diving and eventually progressed to professional cliff diving. She has now competed in 18 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series events, has had 4 podium finishes and featured as a wildcard in the 2021 season where she placed 3rd, ultimately paving the way to her first permanent World Series ticket in 2022! Things really do shift when you just #takeyourshot ☕

How did you get into cliff diving and why? 

I was a gymnast my whole childhood and in my early teens I became a springboard/platform diver. Later I found out about cliff diving, I immediately fell in love with the sport and decided to pursue it. I love everything from the craziness and challenge of the sport to the travel and the beautiful locations in which I compete.

Who is your biggest inspiration when it comes to cliff diving? 

Rhiannan Iffland is my biggest inspiration! She has been world champion 4 years in a row, she is a true Australian sportswoman. She has set a high standard in women’s cliff diving, which inspires me to be better every day. She is incredibly consistent in her diving, super genuine person, encouraging, uplifting and a great friend!

Can you tell us about any defining moments in your career that you thought “I can really do this”?

I learnt my first high dive 3 months before I competed at my first Red Bull competition. I surprised myself at what I was capable of. That was definitely a ‘wow’ moment for me!

Image by: Dean Treml / Red Bull Content Pool

Is there one country or dive spot that you have always wanted to jump from? 

I love any country that is tropical, the Philippines is always at the top of my list, however, I have jumped from there already so Thailand is the next best thing!

What has been the highest cliff you have ever dived from? 

My highest dive was from 22.5 metres (I love the adrenaline but I don’t want to go any higher 😬)

How important is your diet to you as a professional cliff diver?

It is important that I am getting enough food to fuel my training and recover optimally. The stronger and healthier I am, the more my performance will improve and it will reduce the risk of injuries.

What’s one or two things that are must-do’s in your training regime?

In cliff diving, we dive at a speed of around 70km/h, so it’s important that I am strong enough to take the impact. Weights are a non-negotiable for me and I love training in the gym! 

Second is visualisation. I don’t get to train much on the 20-metre cliffs so I have to visualise the whole dive. I visualise the height of the cliff, me flipping through the air and performing a clean entry with no splash. 

Image by: Dean Treml / Red Bull Content Pool

What has been your biggest obstacle and how have you overcome it?

There are no 20m training facilities in Australia which has been the biggest challenge. I have to adapt my training and practice parts of the dive. When I go to a competition, only then can I perform the whole dive. 

What scares a cliff diver? Because it’s obviously not heights! 

I still get scared when I go up on the cliff no matter how many times I practice. If you look at the locations I get to go to, you will know why I do it!

Do you have an ultimate goal you are working towards?

My goal is to become world champion in the Red Bull series and once cliff diving gets into the Olympics, my ultimate goal is to bring home an Olympic Gold Medal for Australia!

What is your go-to Beforeyouspeak coffee combo?

My favourite is Mocha Collagen Coffee with cold water, almond milk and ice! I sometimes add Choc Creamer in there too 🙊


Find Xantheia online @xantheia.pennisi