London 2012: Diving

Published On July 5, 2012 | By Zoë Hayden

Tell me about diving:

Diving has been a mainstay in the Olympics since being introduced at the 1904 St. Louis Games. At the time, it was called “fancy diving” because of the acrobatics involved in completing a dive. Diving will be held at the London Aquatics Centre’s 25-meter (82-foot) diving pool at the 2012 Olympics. There are four men’s and four women’s single and synchronized events for 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform, totaling eight events.

What’s up with the scoring?

Each judge awards a score at his or her own discretion out of 10, with 10 being the highest. There are seven judges at the individual events, and 11 judges at the synchronized events. The diver’s score is based on their poise and precision throughout four stages of the dive: starting position, take-off, the dive itself, and entry into the water.

If the diver does not splash upon entry into the water, he or she will likely receive a high score. In synchronized events, the two divers competing together are also scored on how well they dive together; their motions are meant to be exact mirrors of one another. After each judge has determined his or her score, it is then multiplied by the dive’s degree of difficulty, assigned between one and 4.8. The dive can also be subjected to a series of penalties that either reduce the score or give the diver a score of zero, assessed by a referee.

How do players qualify?

Each nation can submit up to 16 divers total–up to two for each individual event, and a single pair for each synchronized event. Nations qualify based on their results from the World Aquatics Championships and the Diving World Cup. The qualifying spot is not necessarily reserved for the athlete who placed in the competition–they are merely reserving a quota spot for their country. The country can then submit any diver it wishes into that quota spot, often chosen by trials or selected at the time of the nation’s qualification.

International players to watch:

The top divers in every event at the Diving World Cup this past February were Chinese athletes–some of whom were champions at the 2008 Olympics and are planning to return. Chen Ruolin was a double gold medalist at the previous Summer Games in Beijing, competing in both individual and synchronized events for women’s 10-meter platform. Qin Kai, who won gold in men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard and bronze in individual 3-meter springboard, will also be returning. So will Matthew Mitcham, the Australian who prevented China’s sweep of the diving gold medals in ’08, besting in men’s individual 10-meter platform that year. Great Britain has two pairs of hometown favorites who look to be competitors in the platform events in both singles and synchro: Sarah Barrow and Tonia Couch for women’s, and Thomas Daley and Peter Waterfield for men’s.

Americans to watch:

Promising categories for the Americans to challenge for a possible medal include individual 10-meter platform, where David Boudia placed fourth at the Diving World Cup. He also received the silver medal in that category at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai. Troy Dumais will be competing in his fourth career Olympics, and he is searching for his first Olympic medal. In synchro springboard, Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston earned the first two spots on the Olympic diving team.

An inspiring story out of USA Diving is Christopher Colwill, who is hearing impaired and wears hearing aids. Since he cannot wear hearing aids when he dives, he cannot hear the whistle that signals it is his turn to dive. Instead, he looks to either a referee for a head nod or keeps a watchful eye on the scoreboard to notify him when it is his turn.

Talk like an Olympian–terms to know:

Armstand dive – a dive that begins from the hands, used only in platform diving

Balk – an illegal action when the diver begins their dive, but then stops, resulting in a penalty

Pike – a common diving position performed in midair during the descent, executed with the knees straight and the body bent at the waist

Rip entry – an entry into the water executed with little or no splash

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About The Author

Zoë Hayden is a 22-year-old writer from Hopwood, Pennsylvania currently living in Boston. She is a graduate of Emerson College and enjoys covering hockey, international sports tournaments, technology, history, science, and gender issues. You can find her on Twitter: @zoeclaire_