Nick is ‘high diver’ in an amusement park show: ‘You need fear to stay alert’ | NOW

In the summer many people can take it a little easier. But there are also Dutch people who have to work hard in this season. What is their day like? And what do they actually do in the winter?

  • As: Nick Vanaken
  • Summer job: diver, acrobat and actor at Toverland amusement park
  • Favorite thing at work: “I like a little adrenaline”

32-year-old Nick Vanaken balances between water and fire when he stands on top of the 25 meter high diving board. Dressed up in a pirate suit, he steals the show together with other actors and divers. Visitors watch in amazement as Nick sets himself on fire and jumps down.

Vanaken: “The moment you are above that, you become anxious. But that’s a good thing: you need that fear to stay alert. You have to be able to deal with it, things can go wrong if you don’t do this job properly. There was once someone who suffered a concussion from a wrong jump.”

“Your body hits the water at about 90 kilometers per hour, so it’s important that your body is well prepared.”

Nick Vanaken

Handstand at a height of 15 meters

The dive show, called The battle of Port Laguna, is about a battle between good and evil. Pirates compete with the ‘good guys’ over who will take control of the ship. The role Vanaken plays in the show can vary from day to day. He likes the role of pirate the most: “I like to do the handstand at 15 meters and that is possible in that role. But I would find it boring if I always had that role. Just the variety and the border looking up is what I like so much about this job.”

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Vanaken plays in the show about six to seven days a week in the summer, three times a day. One dive show lasts fifteen minutes, but it takes an hour of preparation. “We check whether everything is present on the set and whether the diving boards are in the right position. We also do a warm-up, so that the body is warm.”

The warm-up includes interval training and exercises for the arms to prevent muscle tears. The shoulders are especially important here. “Your body lands on the water at about 90 kilometers per hour, so it is important that your body is well prepared. When on fire, it is mainly your shoulders that take the most blows.”

Nick Vanaken as a pirate in Toverland.

Nick Vanaken as a pirate in Toverland.

Nick Vanaken as a pirate in Toverland.

Apply with videos

When Vanaken has a day off, he immediately notices this in his body. “When I work every day, I feel the fatigue creeping into my body. Fortunately, we have enough actors, so that someone can always take a day off.”

The application procedure for this summer job was a bit different than for most jobs, says Vanaken. For example, you are mainly selected on the basis of what you can do now and the number of years of experience is less important. “Even if you’ve been jumping for fifty years, that doesn’t mean you have mastered the right techniques. For example, you have to know what to do with your hands when you jump. To measure that, I had to record and send in videos of myself On that basis, you will be asked for an interview.”

Outside the summer, Vanaken mainly earns his money with e-commerce: he sells many swimming pool items as a dropshipper via He also occasionally does a freelance job as an entertainer or acrobat at events. “But the best thing for me is diving. Unfortunately, it is not possible to spend my whole life as high diver to work: your body does have limits. For now, this is the work I have the most feeling for. But hopefully when I’m 40 or 50 I can do other jobs in the entertainment world, like I do now.”

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