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Last Updated On: October 30, 2020
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Diving is new to the sports arena since it was adopted in the late 19th century. Diving is a different sport from swimming, even though the sport happens in a swimming pool. Some swimmers started as a hobby as a competitive sport that is part of the Olympic Games. Many people think that diving is all about getting into the water headfirst. However, some techniques go into executing the best dives by athletes. This article will explore various aspects of diving as a sport like the techniques, scoring, and governing bodies.

What is Diving?

Diving – this is a sport where athletes jump into the water from a springboard or platform while performing acrobatics. Contestants plunge into the water headfirst and attempt to perform impressive gymnastic stunts before hitting the water. Contestants can perform a single trick or a series of tricks, depending on their capabilities. It is a competitive aquatic sport as well as a past time activity worldwide. Diving tests a contestant's flexibility, speed, kinesthetic, and strength, characteristics which gymnasts and dancers also possess.

History of Diving

Sports diving history happens in three phases to form what we currently know as diving sports. Plunging into the water from short to high distances has always been a past time activity globally since ancient times. People would try to dive into the water from waterfalls repeatedly as a fun summer activity. There is no specific information about the origin of diving as a competitive sport.

Beginnings of Diving

The earliest forms of competitive diving were witnesses in the 1880s in England, and the sport was known as plunging. There are reports of falling records in the 1870s before plunging became a competitive sport in England. According to an early British Rural Sports British, one of the highest records was from Mr. Young, falling 56 feet in 1870. In 1883, the English Amateur Swimming Association held the first plunging championship and continued to do so until it was discounted in 1937.

High Diving

German and Sweden had gymnasts diving from high platforms and performing mid-air by the beginning of the 19th century. Early diving was known as straight diving, while diving with stunts was known as fancy diving. Straight diving became a beginning activity for swimming competitions as high diving grew in popularity. In 1893, the National Graceful Diving Competition held the first high diving championships. In 1895, the Royal Life Saving Society held high diving competitions from 4.6m to 9.1m high.

By the beginning of the 19th century, swimming associations began to view high diving as a category in aquatic competitions. In 1903, the American Diving Association organized the first worldwide high diving championships, and diving was officially introduced as a globally competitive sport.

Highboard Diving

Diving became part of the Olympic Games in two phases. In 1904, plain diving was adopted as part of aquatic competitions, and in 1908, high diving became part of the Olympic Games. Sports associations used elastic boards for both straight and high diving as launch platforms back then. In 1912, women were part of diving competitions in Stockholm, a significant change in the rules. The 1928 Olympics combined plain and high diving into one category known as Highboard Diving.

At the time, all diving competitions were helping outdoors during the Olympic Games and other championship competitions. British Empire Games in 1934 was the first event to hold diving competitions indoors, followed by the 1948 Olympics in London.


Federation Internationale de Natation, FINA is the official global governing body for swimming activities. It is a significant part of most aquatic sports, including diving. Another governing body is the Amateur Swimming Association, which is the diving governing body in Britain. In America, divers are part of the school's swimming club before joining diving clubs. FINA requires divers to be part of a regional association before joining international competitions.


Points in diving come from several sources, and judges look at a variety of things from contestants. The approach on the platform or springboard is a determining factor in scoring. Stunts in flight mode also earn contestant's points as well as entry into the water. Here are some of the aspects that judges look for in individual contestants.

  • The platform's height that a diver stands on before plunging into the water Higher platforms earns more points.
  • The distance that a diver puts between him or her and the platform while diving.
  • Good stunts like handstands when beginning a dive and the duration of the stunt.
  • Maintaining proper form when launching, doing stunts, and plunging into the water.
  • The number of rotations a diver does mid-air and the entry position.
  • A lower amount of splash during entry earns divers more points than a significant splash.
  • Points are awarded for the degree of difficulty depending on the stunts that a contestant does.

Contestants must bring their best performance, especially in the Olympics and World Series championships. Rotations, handstands, and twists are the popular kinds of stunts that contestants perform during competitive diving. Olympics expect contestants to dive from platforms of a height of 10m and above. Springboard dives are usually 1-3 meters high, and they are excellent for beginners. Team diving competitions have more aspects that judges look at when allocating points.

 Here are the additional requirements that divers must meet for synchronized diving.

  • Diving height
  • Synchronicity in movements of the team members
  • The difficulty level of synchronized stunts
  • Same time of entry in the water

Contestants can get penalized for not following rules and not wearing the right attire when competing. Points penalized are removed from the overall points that contestants earn for the other performances. Contestants need to wear the proper attire and use equipment like goggles to avoid getting penalized and losing points.

Diving Positions

There are four prominent dive positions that divers can use in a performance. The four dives are known as straight dives, pike dive, tuck dive, free dive.

  • Straight dives require the divers to remain straight when plunging into the water.
  • Pike dive demands that the diver bends at the waist while keeping the toes pointed down and legs straight.
  • A tuck dive demands the diver to tuck the lower body close to the chest when diving into the water. It is popular even at swimming pools because amateurs can splash a lot of water.
  • Free dives are useful in twisting dives, and it can be a combination of all the above dives.

The form of a contestant when executing a dive position earns them points. Therefore, contestants need to practice so that they can be perfect the technique. Launches earn significant points for individual and synchronized diving.

Dive Numbers

There are several dive numbers that divers use when competing. Each dive has a number allocated to each position. The dives help people give dive numbers for dive groups. The dives include:

  • Forward dive – position 1: The diver stands on the platform or springboard facing forward and plunges forward away from the board.
  • Backward dive – position 2: The diver faces backward on the board and plunges into the water from a plunging position.
  • Reverse dive – position 3: The diver faces forward on the board and moves back towards the board.
  • Inward dive – position 4: The diver faces backward on the board and moves forwards towards the board.
  • Twist dive – position 5: Any diving positions that includes a twist when plunging into the water. There is no definition of the number of twists as long as twists are part of a diving position.
  • Arm stand dive – positions 6: Divers start diving from an arm stand at the platform's edge or springboard.

Combining the various starting positions make a group of positions do in a competition. Male divers have to choose one position from the six positions while female divers choose from the first five positions. Senior performing divers must perform the first five positions to prove their mastery of the techniques. Points are awarded for executing each position excellently in the right form. The numbers on each position are for reference purposes when contestants are entering competitions with various stunts.

Major Events

Olympic Games are the biggest event for sports diving, followed by the World Series championships. Divers need a high level of skills to meet the diving requirements of international events. Diving heights for international events are higher, and contestants earn more points for launching from a high position.

Other major events include Meets in various locations like America or country meets. Meets may vary the positions and rules that divers use when competing. Meets are an excellent way for upcoming divers to hone their skills and develop their international level capacity.

Another popular diving event is National Championships, where divers below 18 years old can showcase their skills. FINA assists regional organizations in creating appropriate competitions for different age groups. In the USA, divers begin at summer diving events before proceeding to high school diving. The best divers join the diving competitions organized by USA diving to help divers grow to the college diving category. There are master diving competitions that club divers and college can join depending on the age groups.

Most national championship events in various countries seek to prepare divers for international diving events like the Olympics. Advancing through each competition filters the best divers who become masters in diving. Divers at the Olympic Games and World Series are the crème del a crème of the diving sport.


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