The big kid on the block might win the biggest cannonball splash at the neighborhood pool, but they are far from a win if they ever want to compete in the municipal pool down the road.
Diving is a sport often pushed to the side or not thought about, and the only time people usually take interest in diving is when Summer Olympics come around.
“Not a lot of people know the rules of diving, but every four years diving becomes popular with the help of the Olympics,” BYU diving coach Keith Russell said. “The most desirable and expensive tickets at the Olympics are gymnastics and diving.”
Russell said the reason a lot of people don’t know about diving is because the Olympics is as high as you can get with diving. There is no professional league with the sport, and divers can’t make a living off it.
“A lot of people learn things from TV nowadays and diving is never on TV,” diver Dayna Christensen said. “You have to go out of your way to start learning about it and the best way is to ask someone who is a diver.”
Christensen and Day said the first place to start learning is about the different boards divers jump from: a 1-meter springboard, 3-meter springboard or platform. The springboards are the bouncy ones, while the platform is the one that doesn’t bounce.
“Divers like to go to all boards in the facility first and catch the board to get a feel for how it springs you,” senior diver Travis Day said.
Divers can choose from four possible positions while entering the water.
A tuck position is when they are in a ball and tie their legs into their chest. In a straight position, divers don’t move their legs or arms. Pike is when legs are straight and extended all the way, but still pulling into the chest. Free position is a combination of somersaults and twists in different forms of a pike, straight or tuck.
Russell said a diver has more than just the actual dive to worry about when competing.
“The judges think about the diver’s ability, the mechanics of the dive, how high it was in the air, the take-off, the beauty of the dive, how they go in the water and so much more,” Russell said.
When the judges mark their scores they calculate the degree of difficulty and the score of the performance. When at least five judges are present, the score is computed with the highest and lowest score deleted. The remaining judges’ scores will be added and then multiplied by the degree of difficulty to get the diver’s final score.
“Each dive has a dive number, position and degree of difficulty attached to it,” Russell said. “The strategy is to find the balance of performing the hardest dive you can do the best at.”
Viewers get so distracted and mesmerized by all the flips and twists at the diving Olympics they don’t bother to learn the ins and outs of the sport.
“People don’t know the amount of technical skill that goes into each dive,” Day said. “You don’t just go, jump and do it. Each part of your body has to be in the right position to go into a successful dive.”