Chinese divers Wu Minxia and He Zi have spent most of their lives in the pool - they were both just six when they started diving.
They attended special sports schools that aim to turn promising youngsters into the stars of tomorrow.
The scouts who spotted them obviously had a good eye: Ms Wu has already won two Olympic gold medals and Ms He recently won gold at the diving world cup.
The two divers are sometimes rivals but at the London Olympic Games in 2012 they hope to compete together.
WU MINXIA & HE ZI - THE FACTS
Born: 1990 & 1985
Discipline: Synchronised diving
Career highlights: Wu Minxia - Two time Olympic gold medallist in women's synchronised 3m springboard. He Zi - two gold medals, 3m springboard, 2010 season
Recent performance: Gold medals at the World Diving Series, Mexico and 2010 Diving World Cup
They will probably team up for the women's synchronised 3m springboard event - two athletes performing the same dive at the same time.
China's top divers train six days a week at the national sports training centre in Beijing.
Nearly half of their time is spent in the gymnasium, plunging off diving boards into pits filled with foam to break their fall.
There are also trampolines, harnesses and crash mats to allow the divers to practice complex moves in relative safety.
But most of the important action takes place in the pool. For up to four hours a day, Chinese divers climb up - again and again - onto diving boards of various heights and then leap into the water below.
As they dive into the pool, their coaches sit watching. Afterwards they offer words of encouragement or criticism.
Dives are also recorded and instantly replayed on a giant wall-mounted screen to the watching coaches and athletes.
He Zi at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome
Next to the screen there is a large Chinese flag, just to remind the divers that they are not competing solely for themselves.
This rigorous life is not one that He Zi, now 19, initially craved - she was tricked by her parents, who wanted her to take up the sport.
"They told me diving was fun, but I regretted it as soon as I got to the pool and saw how deep it was," she told the BBC.
"I couldn't swim back then. I hoped that someone would come and rescue me but once I could swim though I started to learn new moves and gradually I began to have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction."
All that training and sacrifice is now paying off.
Ms He recently won gold in the individual 3m springboard at the diving World Cup, held in the Chinese city of Changzhou in Jiangsu province in June. She beat Wu Minxia, who came second.
We will be following the progress of a selection of athletes and we would like to hear from you.
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