Diving is the sport of jumping or falling into water from a platform or springboard, sometimes while performing acrobatics. Diving is an internationally recognised sport that is part of the Olympic Games. In addition, unstructured and non-competitive diving is a recreational pastime.
Diving is one of the most popular Olympic sports with spectators. Competitors possess many of the same characteristics as gymnasts and dancers; including strength, flexibility, judgement and air awareness.
China came to prominence several decades ago when the sport was revolutionised by national coach Liang Boxi after intense study of the dominant Greg Louganis. China has lost few world titles since. The success of Louganis has led to American strength in diving internationally, while other noted countries in the sport include Italy, Australia and Canada.
Types of Competitive Diving
Most diving competitions consist of three disciplines: 1m and 3m springboards, and the platform. Competitive athletes are divided by gender, and often by age group. In platform events, competitors are allowed to perform their dives on either the five, seven and a half or ten meter towers. In major diving meets, including the Olympic Games and the World Championships, platform diving is from the 10 meter height.
Divers have to perform a set number of dives according to established requirements, including somersaults and twists. Divers are judged on whether and how well they complete all aspects of the dive, the conformance of their body to the requirements of the dive, and the amount of splash created by their entry to the water. A possible score out of ten is broken down into three points for the take-off, three for the flight, and three for the entry, with one more available to give the judges flexibility.
The raw score is multiplied by a difficulty factor, derived from the number and combination of movements attempted. The diver with the highest total score after a sequence of dives is declared the winner.
Synchronised diving was adopted as an Olympic sport in 2000. Two divers form a team and perform dives simultaneously. The dives are usually identical; however, sometimes the dives may be opposites, in what is called a pin-wheel. For example, one diver may perform a forward dive and the other an inward dive in the same position; or one may do a reverse and the other a back movement.
Judging in Diving
To reduce the subjectivity of scoring in major meets, panels of five or seven judges are assembled. If there are five judges, then the highest and lowest scores are discarded and the middle three are summed and multiplied by the Degree of Difficulty, determined from a combination of the moves undertaken, in which position and from what height.
In major international events, there are seven judges in which case the highest and lowest scores are again discarded and the middle five are summed, then ratioed by 3/5, and multiplied by the Degree of Difficulty, so as to provide consistent comparison with 5-judge events. Accordingly, it is extremely difficult for one judge to manipulate scores.
There is a general misconception about scoring and judging. In serious meets, the absolute score is somewhat meaningless. It is the relative score, not the absolute score that wins meets. Accordingly, good judging implies consistent scoring across the dives. Specifically, if a judge consistently gives low scores for all divers, or consistently gives high scores for the same divers, the judging will yield fair relative results and will cause divers to place in the correct order. However, absolute scores have significance to the individual divers. Besides the obvious instances of setting records, absolute scores are also used for rankings and qualifications for higher level meets.
In synchronised diving events, there is a panel of seven or nine judges; two to mark the execution of one diver, two to mark the execution of the other, and the remaining three or five to judge the synchronisation. The execution judges are positioned two on each side of the pool, and they score the diver which is nearer to them.
The score is computed in the same way as for individual events with seven judges (i.e. highest and lowest deleted, then the sum of the remaining five reduced by 3/5, then multiplied by the Degree of Difficulty).
To win dive meets, divers create a dive list in advance of the meet. To win the meet the diver must accumulate more points than other divers. Often, simple dives with low DDs will look good to spectators but will not win meets. The competitive diver will attempt the highest DD dives possible with which they can achieve consistent, high scores. If divers are scoring 8 or 9 on most dives, it may be a sign of their extreme skill, or it may be a sign that their dive list is not competitive, and they may lose the meet to a diver with higher DDs and lower scores.
In competition, divers must submit their lists beforehand, and once past a deadline (usually when the event is announced or shortly before it begins) they cannot change their dives. If they fail to perform the dive announced, even if they physically cannot execute the dive announced or if they perform a more difficult dive, they will receive a score of zero. Under exceptional circumstances, a re-dive may be granted, but these are exceedingly rare (usually for very young divers just learning how to compete, or if some event outside the diver’s control has caused them to be unable to perform).
In the Olympics or other highly competitive meets, many divers will have nearly the same list of dives as their competitors. The importance for divers competing at this level is not so much the DD, but how they arrange their list. Once the more difficult rounds of dives begin it is important to lead off with a confident dive to build momentum. They also tend to put a very confident dive in front of a very difficult dive to ensure that they will have a good mentality for the difficult dive.
Most divers have pre-dive and post-dive rituals that help them either maintain or regain focus. Coaches also play a role in this aspect of the sport. Many divers rely on their coaches to help keep their composure during the meet. In a large meet, coaches are rarely allowed on the deck to talk to their athlete ,so it is common to see coaches using hand gestures to communicate.