Diving is the sport of jumping or falling into water from a platform or springboard, sometimes while performingacrobatics. Diving is an internationally-recognized 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, kinaesthetic judgment and air awareness.

China came to prominence several decades ago when the sport was revolutionized by national coach Liang Boxi and after intense study of the dominant Louganis. China has lost few world titles since. The success of Greg Louganis has led to American strength in diving internationally. Other noted countries in the sport include Italy, Australia and Canada.

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 (generally just called seven) 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 completed 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 takeoff, 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.

Synchronized diving

Synchronized 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 pinwheel. In these events, the diving is judged both on the quality of execution and the synchronicity – in timing of take-off and entry, height and forward travel.

Scoring the dive

There are rules governing the scoring of a dive. Usually a score considers three elements of the dive: the approach, the flight, and the entry. The primary factors affecting the scoring are:

  • if a hand-stand is required, the length of time and quality of the hold
  • the height of the diver at the apex of the dive, with extra height resulting in a higher score
  • the distance of the diver from the diving apparatus throughout the dive (a diver must not be dangerously close, should not be too far away, but should ideally be within 2 feet (0.61 m) of the platform)
  • the properly defined body position of the diver according to the dive being performed, including pointed toes and feet touching at all times
  • the proper amounts of rotation and revolution upon completion of the dive and entry into the water
  • angle of entry – a diver should enter the water straight, without any angle. Many judges award divers for the amount of splash created by the diver on entry, with less splash resulting in a higher score.

To reduce the subjectivity of scoring in major meets, panels of five or seven judges are assembled. If five judges then the highest and lowest scores are discarded and the middle three are summed and multiplied by the DD (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 DD, 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).

The synchronisation scores are based on:

  • time of take-off
  • height attained
  • synchronisation of rotations and twists
  • time of entry to the water
  • forward travel from the board
Reference: Wikipedia Diving