Cliff Diver Ginger Huber is suit-optional for The Body Issue

Go behind the scenes on the making of ESPN The Magazine's 2014 Body Issue featuring cliff diver Ginger Huber

Dean Treml + Romina Amato

When you hit the water from 20 meters, it feels like you're getting punched. Even if you're just slightly out of place, just sticking your chin out a little bit, it will feel just like a good solid punch in the jaw.

Women can high dive. You always see the men high diving, and usually women don't get invited to competitions, and there aren't many female competitions. So I just want to get rid of the stereotype that only men high dive.

In the Olympics, the highest they dive is 10 meters. High diving for women is 20 meters. You're doubling the impact. When you're diving from 20 meters, you're hitting the water I think at 55 to 60 mph. The difference in impact is indescribable. If you land a little off in 10 meters it might hurt, but the pain will go away. If you do the same thing on 20 meters, you're more likely to actually do some legitimate damage.

Actually, the worst injury I ever had was from 10 meters. [Laughs] I lacerated my spleen. I'm glad I didn't do that from 20 meters.

I'm really kind of afraid of heights. That sounds ironic. I'm more scared of when I'm high and just over land. I probably wouldn't like being in a hot-air balloon, and I have absolutely no interest in skydiving or anything like that.

I'm also really afraid of mice. I don't like mice at all.

My husband is a high diver too. We both get up in the morning and we probably look twice our age for the first minute of the day, hobbling around. We have to roll out our ankles and warm our feet up. They are just tight and cramped.

My mind is the drawing board for what my body ends up doing. When I can visualize a certain dive, then I know I can do it. If I can't see it in my head and I go out and try it, I'll crash.

There's this one trick I've only tried twice. It's not really a traditional Olympic dive -- it's more of a high dive or show dive or trick dive. It was 3.5 twists with two somersaults. I couldn't envision myself doing that. I anticipated the last twist a little too early and so instead of being on a square axis I was more on a side axis. I kept rotating sideways. It was just too much for my mind.

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Oh my gosh, I would be on that trampoline for so long. My grandfather bought it for [me and my siblings]. I think I was 5 or 6. I taught myself how to do everything. I taught myself how to flip and how to twist. If it was a school day, I'd be on it as soon as I came home. I would say a couple hours a day easily.

My stepfather is a counselor and specializes in panic attacks. I was able to talk a lot with him, and he was very helpful. Last year when I went to competitions, I was worried: "OK I hope I don't really freak out." I just had to practice a lot of the mental stuff that he taught me to remain calm.

If anything goes wrong, [scuba divers] are there to rescue you. One of my teammates last year, he was diving in Portugal and the waves were so big. The wave hit as it was coming in from where he took off. It hit and cut off about 10 feet of the airtime he thought he would have. He hit that wave and he just got knocked out immediately. A scuba diver brought him onto land and saved his life.

I started learning to high dive into these little bitty tanks. That's what high diving used to be -- at these little shows. I remember the first time climbing all the way up the high dive ladder and looking over the tank, and I kid you not, it was just like that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he looks down and it looks just like a little itty-bitty tub. It really looked like that. But the more and more I climbed up and got more comfortable with it, the pool seemed bigger and bigger.

Actually, the size of the pool doesn't bother me so much as the depth of the pool. Those tanks are typically only 10 feet deep. I've hit the bottom many times for sure, but fortunately I've never hit it too hard. Some people do and they shatter their heel or dislocate their knee or tear their ACL. I don't really do shows like that anymore.

My feet have foot model potential. The toes are all pretty normal looking; I have a nice arch on my foot and some cool veins. They've held up pretty well hitting the water consistently from 70 feet, and they don't get any credit.

There are a lot of stupid, dangerous things I've done. I think Acapulco for me was the most dangerous. People dive there all the time, but it's tricky, because you have to jump about 15 feet out, otherwise you'll land on a rock or on a ledge underneath the water. And also you have to time the waves so that there's enough water in the place you're jumping into. Otherwise you might hit the bottom.

Don't think about it. The worst part is just the fear. Sometimes it hurts when you hit, but the pain goes away. It's a little slap on the water, it doesn't last long. The achievement outweighs the pain by far.

I'm actually stronger than I look. I don't always show six-pack abs, but I can do abs all day long.

That's the goal everyone is shooting for right now -- getting high diving into the Olympics. But no, I never have envisioned myself as an Olympic athlete. But within the last year, with all the talk of possible Olympics, I thought, "You know, that would be really cool."

I know the guy that pulled off that stunt! Really, I do, I know him. I've worked with him at a show before, and that's what he's famous for -- the Rodney Dangerfield "Triple Lindy" from Back to School. But he didn't actually do it. It was all camera work. That dive is not possible, no. Going board to board, that stuff has been done. But I couldn't do it, or I should say, I wouldn't do it.

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