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Tianjin’s Diving Grandpas: A Dive into Virality, Optimism, and Safety Concerns

CultureTianjin's Diving Grandpas: A Dive into Virality, Optimism, and Safety Concerns

In Tianjin, a group of spirited elderly gentlemen, fondly referred to as the ‘diving grandpas,’ captured the hearts of netizens with their outdoor diving stunts on the Haihe River. However, after enjoying their month-long reign as social media sensations, they recently decided to suspend their diving escapades, prioritizing safety above all.

Their self-organized diving stunts at the Shizilin Bridge over the Haihe River became an unmissable attraction in Tianjin. People from all corners of the country flocked to the location, armed with cameras and a sense of awe. This bridge, which served as their performance stage, witnessed a daily influx of admirers, influencers, and diving aficionados keen to witness or participate in the spectacle.

However, the allure of the scene enticed not just experienced divers but also a slew of online personalities and amateur enthusiasts eager to tap into the viral trend. Unfortunately, the scene grew chaotic. The local Blue Sky Rescue Team found themselves rescuing 14 divers in a mere span of two days. Among these, seven faced issues due to incorrect diving techniques, five were near-drowning experiences, and two unfortunate individuals suffered sudden strokes.

Addressing the concerns, the elderly diving team released a statement via WeChat, expressing their apprehensions about the unchecked and increasing number of participants, many of whom lacked adequate training and thus posed rescue challenges.

Moreover, the Tianjin government flagged concerns about the Shizilin Bridge itself. Detailed inspections revealed the bridge’s lighting setup, which the grandpas had been using as a diving point, had several safety hazards including loose components, corrosion, and the threat of potential electric shocks. Swiftly addressing the issue, the government initiated repair works on the very day of the announcement.

A video that surfaced showed these revered elderly divers adopting a new role: volunteers urging the gathered crowds to disperse for their safety.

Liang Shuang, a Tianjin local, reminisced about the pre-viral days, sharing, “The grandpas have been diving off that bridge for years. But with the recent surge in visitors and the inherent risks of the busy river, it’s become worrisomely crowded.”

Diving from significant heights like the Shizilin Bridge, which stands approximately 7 meters above water, can be perilous. As one plunges, the speed can reach an impactful tens of kilometers per hour. Experts have emphasized the magnitude of the risks involved in such dives.

Liang added, “The grandpas brought joy, optimism, and a boost to Tianjin’s popularity. But it’s evident they prioritize public safety over fleeting fame. Their passion shouldn’t be shadowed by social media pressures.”

Rooted in Tianjin, these diving enthusiasts, with an average age surpassing 60 and boasting over three decades of diving experience, started as local swimmers. Their love for the water evolved from swimming in their younger days to daring dives as they aged.

Their skyrocketing fame might have taken many by surprise, but the resonating message of living in the moment and embracing life wholeheartedly has touched countless souls. One particular quote from a grandpa stands out and has reverberated across social platforms: “Live for one minute, be happy for 60 seconds.” A sentiment that many onlookers have taken to heart.


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