Diving 101

Diving is one of the most popular spectator sports of the Summer Olympic Games. The grace, strength and velocity of competitive diving is indeed a thrill to watch. All diving competitions are run in accordance with Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) rules and standards which dictate the dives which may be performed, methods of scoring, board heights, water temperature, manner of judging, and number of dives to be performed. Below is a summary of the FINA Diving Rules for 2002-2005. For more complete information, including illustrations of the different dives (who’s the smarty pants, now?) visit: http://www.fina.org/divingrules.html

Types of Dives
Currently, FINA recognizes 87 different dives. For convenience these are broken down into six categories.

Forward Group
The diver faces forward off the end of the diving board. Dives in this group vary from the simple forward dive to the very difficult three and one half somersaults. A running approach of not less than four steps is normally used for dives in this group. The last step is termed the “hurdle” and it is from this that the diver generates height on take off.

Backward Group
All dives in the backward group begin with the diver at the end of the board, back to the water. The direction of movement is away from the board. As there is no run up, height is harder to generate, and good technique is required to complete the dive.

Reverse Group
These dives begin like the Forward Group, the diver moving forward to the end of the board. However, the rotation is back towards the board in a reverse or “backward” movement, hence the name “reverse.”

Inward Group
These dives start like the Backward Group with the diver at the end of the board with his/her back to the water. However, from take off, motion is in towards the board, not away from it.

Twist Group
Any dive in which the body is deliberately twisted (rotated on the axis of its length) is included in this group. Just to complicate matters, twist dives may incorporate any of the four groups mentioned above (forward, backward, reverse, inward). Because of the large number of combinations, this group consists of more dives than the others.

Armstand Group
This group is only used off the platform, not the springboards. Here the diver assumes an armstand position on the end of the platform before executing the dive. Steadiness in the armstand is important.

Body Positions
When each type of dive is being performed, the diver uses one or more of the four different types of body position:

This position requires that there be no bend at the waist or knees. However, there may be an arch in the back, depending on the dive. As in the pike position, the arm placement is either at the diver’s choice or defined by the dive done.

The legs are straight with the body bent at the waist. The arm position is dictated by the particular dive being done or by the choice of the diver.

The body is bent at the waist and knees. The thighs are drawn to the chest while the heels are kept close to the buttocks.

This is not an actual body position but a diver’s option to use any of the other three positions or combination thereof when performing a dive which includes somersaults and twists. However, in dives of this type the tuck position is rarely used, while a combination of the other two positions is common.

Components of a Dive
There are five basic evaluation components of a dive.

Should be smooth and forceful, showing good form.

Take Off
The diver must show control and balance, plus the proper angle of landing the hurdle and leaving the board for the particular dive being attempted.

The amount of spring or lift the diver receives from the take-off greatly affects the appearance of the dive. Since more height means more time, the higher elevation generally affords greater accuracy and smoothness of movement.

This is most important, for this is the dive. A judge watches for proper mechanical performance, technique, form and grace.

The two criteria to be evaluated here are the angle of entry, which should be vertical, and the amount of splash which should be as little as possible.