The Daley Extra: World Champ British Diver Tom Daley Further Adored As DIY Knitter, Crocheter, and Feel-Good Content Creator Ahead of Fourth Olympics

Tom Daley

World Champ British Diver Tom Daley Further Adored As DIY Knitter, Crocheter, and Feel-Good Content Creator Ahead of Fourth Olympics

On May 1, British diver Tom Daley, whose passage to the Olympics was already assured by his synchronized bronze medal from the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, Korea in 2019, won the FINA Diving World Cup in Tokyo with Matty Lee in the men’s synchronized 10-meter final. He followed that up with a gold for himself in the men’s individual 10-meter final on May 4.

Two weeks after, on May 16, he won gold with Lee at the European Aquatics Championships in Budapest, earning his first European title ever for the synchronized 10-meter event. Individually, he came in just behind Russia’s Aleksandr Bondar in the 10-meter final to claim silver, ending the streak of golds he had won during his past Olympic years in 2008, 2012, and 2016. However, his score of 109.15 for his forwards 4.5 somersault-tuck represented a career high. Then on May 21, the young athlete, husband, and father turned 27 years old. Just when it seemed that Daley couldn’t possibly be busier, more devoted, or higher achieving, there was this…

The weekend right after his birthday, he cross-posted a shot of himself knitting in a pajama set on on both his official Instagram account and @madewithlovebytomdaley, a separate profile for his journey in knitting and crocheting. Yes, knitting and crocheting.

Tom Daley

Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

His craftsy account already boasts 74.4 thousand followers and climbing to the 2 million devotees of his main profile. More and more people are catching onto Daley’s additional persona and becoming fans after a bit of buzz last fall and this spring in UK publications about his hobbies.

Daley grew up doing crafts, but his knitting and crocheting activities began in early 2020, when COVID-19 caused a waiting game for Olympic athletes. Daley’s husband, D. Lance Black, initially suggested the activity to Tom, saying he had seen people knit on set during his work as an American screenwriter, director, and film and TV producer.

Though his first samples were far from perfect, Daley plunged into the art and soon got hooked on crochet, too. As he said to a podcast called The LoveCrafts Show, he found that knitting helped him be mindful without overthinking and be productive without stressing.

He started taking his projects with him while training and competing. To his surprise, plenty of other divers (e.g. from Russia and Australia) and coaches (e.g. from China) shared his newfound passion. With their advice and the aid of instructional YouTube videos, Daley’s skills rapidly improved.

Even now at the apex of his dive training and competition, he churns out a new piece every two to three days, often as private gifts for close friends. Things he’s made for the public eye include a rainbow ugly sweater, a striped tea cozy, a stuffed unicorn, a lilac-colored cat couch for his mother’s dear pet, and even a pair of swim trunks that probably wouldn’t survive a single one of his dives but look great on (him).

In more humanitarian endeavors, he made a blanket for a boy named Jake, who has a rare genetic mutation called PCH-pontocerebellar Hypoplasia causing shrinking of the brain. He also composed his first downloadable crocheting pattern for a Granny Belt Pullover costing £2.50/$3.55 for the benefit of The Brain Tumour Charity. This arrangement is in memory of Daley’s dad, taken in 2011 at age 40 by brain cancer.

Perhaps the moment that fetched Daley the most pop culture attention in the UK this spring was when he posted a handmade knockoff of a £1,750 Gucci dress, sported by his blonde “bestie,” social influencer Sophie Lee. A month before the telltale Instagram activity, he had put up a video – hair still wet from a session at the pool – showing the item laid out on the floor. The vlog entry was the 25th out of 49 episodes in his “Daley Diaries” series launched on Sep. 9, 2020 to document his journey to the Tokyo Games.

Daley’s YouTube channel has 867K subscribers. Adding this to his 2.2 million followers on Twitter, Daley is far and away the most-followed aquatic Olympian in the world.

For a diver, always somewhat in the shadow of the most-watched Olympic event of competitive swimming, medals and good looks alone might not have been enough to bring about such sustained and intensifying popularity. Aside from his athleticism, aesthetics, charisma, and all-around adorability, Tom is a prolific and earnest content creator who is generous about showing the everyday dimensions of his life in his own narrative voice.

Tom Daley

Photo Courtesy: Osports

From his home in London, dim hotel rooms, a walk-in closet outfitted with a shelf full of yarn skeins, aquatics centers, and even a COVID testing session, the diver has fielded random audience questions, given the play-by-play of competitions, and divulged his personal competition rituals, dive training tips, child care secrets, and other pastimes (plant care), bad habits (nail-biting), favorite foods (Indian), and even blemishes on his face.

He’s also a multiple book author of an official autobiography (2012), a whimsical tale of consequences co-written with celebrities like Kate Moss and the musical group One Direction (2015), a collection of healthy recipes (2016), and a guide to cultivating healthy habits (2018). Next up is Coming Up for Air: What I Learned from Sport, Fame and Fatherhood, due out this October.

As his Twitter post attests in a meme in partnership with Adidas, “Where some see a diving platform, I see a platform to spread love and positivity.”

Since coming out as gay in 2013, he has been an extroverted activist for the LGBTQ community. Earlier this year, he declared that he would support any athlete who wishes to express themselves at the Olympics despite the IOC’s recent reinforcement of Rule 50, which prohibits politically, religiously, or racially, themed demonstrations or “propaganda” during the Games.

As unreserved about sharing his daily life as he is hurling himself off of a 10-meter platform, Daley is knitting, crocheting, baking, childrearing, and winning his way to his fourth Olympics as more than a dominating athlete, but also a relatable role model for the global community.