"The pilot, Robbie Cooper (RIP), was a pretty mad pilot and he was making aggressive turns onto jump run. Luckily for us the instructors were really keen for first timers to carry on progressing through the system."
The first jump course was also where John met his partner Judi who was one of the instructors.
The idea was to have approximately two camps per year plus some weekends. However, Pete Allum, Toby Stafford and John McIver decided that they would really like to do more than that:
"We made a big decision to up sticks and move from the UK to Skydive Deland in Florida. This meant we left behind Craig Hill, who had a business to run. Chris Lynch then joined the team in Florida to complete the original XL lineup."
John McIver arrived in DeLand with $50 cash and the promise that he could use a small trailer and pay some rent once he would start making some money. His first job was as a packer, then he started doing a little bit of 4way video.
"It was probably every 4way jumper's dream - we left with the promise of pretty much unlimited jumps per year. In return we would have to coach and organise events at the DZ."
His current team is Satori. He joined the team as a player coach in 2009 and remembers how Satori inspired him to move on: "Little did they know, but at that time I was considering giving up skydiving altogether. However, their raw enthusiam rekindled my love for 4way."
XL's 13.0 starting average was the beginning of the XL story. There were many changes and upsets over the years before John McIver arrived at the magic 20-point average with XL at the World Meet 2003 in Gap, France. The lineup included Pete Allum, Steve Hamilton and Thomas Hughes by then.
XL then disbanded, and John McIver now looks back with second thoughts: "My biggest regret, in retrospect, is that we didn't stay together for a couple more years, as I don't feel we realised our full potential."
John McIver is now as much a seasoned coach as he is one of the most experienced 4way competitors in the world. He thought about what kind of advice he would give to someone who aspired to become a national champion. He believes that the focus on core flying skills is as crucial as fitness and flexibility. He added that there is additional homework: "You also have to become an expert at analysing 4way videos. I still spend hours studying top team footage..."
He is currently enjoying his coaching work for the Satori Academy teams, which have seen some great progression. He has also worked with SonicNutz in 2011 and enjoys watching another British 4way team moving up to the top level. He thinks that the standard of British 4way jumping has significantly improved, and the statistics support that: "There are now so many more teams competing at the national championships. Having three wind tunnels in the UK has definitely helped, as has the increased number of available professional coaches."
The coaching project has been successful, and Satori has been running large spring training camps in Spain where all the Academy teams train together. John McIver sees the benefit in the fact that there are four coaches present, all skilled in a particular slot:
"All partcipants can draw on expertise that pertains to their individual position." He said that the Academy project is going to continue in 2012 with tryouts starting towards the end of the year.
Outside of his skydiving life John McIver has mainly his family and his bicycle:
"Life outside skydiving mainly revolves around family life - and as much mountain biking as I can fit in."