diving, springboard and platform, sport of entering the water from a raised position, often while executing tumbles, twists, and other acrobatic maneuvers. In most dives the upper part of the body enters the water first, and the arms are extended straight over the head. The earliest recorded major diving competition took place in 1871 off the London Bridge. Since then diving has become part of most aquatic meets and is a U.S. intercollegiate event. Men's diving became part of the Olympic games in 1904, when it was called fancy diving. Women's diving joined the program in 1912; synchronized diving became a medal event in 2000.
Springboard diving is done from a flexible plank made of aluminum or steel and measuring 16 ft (4.9 m) long by 20 in. (51 cm) wide. It extends horizontally over the water at a height of 1 m (about 3 ft 3 in.) or 3 m (about 9 ft 10 in.). The flexibility of the board allows the diver to jump high into the air to execute various maneuvers before entering the water. Platform diving (also called high diving) is usually done from a tower 10 m (32 ft 10 in.) high that is not flexible and that projects nearly five feet (1.5 m) over the water. The height of the tower permits more involved acrobatics during descent; it also poses considerable danger as divers enter the water at speeds of 40 mi (60 km) per hr or more.
Both types of diving are done from standing and walking starts, and in competition judges score on the basis of form, execution, and degree of difficulty. There are six groups of dives (forward, backward, reverse, inward, twisting, and armstand) and four basic midair body positions: tuck (bending at both the knees and the hips so that the body assumes a ball shape), pike (bending at the hips but not at the knees), straight (body rigidly extended at all times), and free (combination of two or more of above body positions). On springboard, divers usually perform five dives with degree-of-difficulty limits—one dive from each group except armstand—and five dives (six for men) with no limits. On platform, divers perform four dives with difficulty limits from the six groups. Women then perform four dives, men six, without limits. In all dives the final entry position should be rigid and vertical—the less splash the better.
See S. Lee and S. Lehrman, Diving (1983); A. J. Bachrach and G. H. Egstrom, Stress and Performance in Diving (1987).