AskDefine | Define diving

Dictionary Definition



1 an athletic competition that involves diving into water [syn: diving event]
2 a headlong plunge into water [syn: dive]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /ˈdaɪvɪŋ/, /"daIvIN/
  • Rhymes with: -aɪvɪŋ


  1. present participle of dive


  1. The action of the verb to dive in any sense.
  2. The sport of jumping head first into water.
  3. The practice of swimming underwater, especially using a scuba system, and especially for recreation.
  4. Of, relating to or used in diving (jumping into water).
  5. Of, relating to or used in diving (swimming underwater).
action of the verb "to dive"
  • French: plongement (corresponding to senses of "to dive" translated by "plonger"), plongeon (in football, of a goalkeeper)
sport of jumping head first into water
practice of swimming underwater
attributively: of or relating to the sport of jumping head first into water
See also Derived terms above
attributively: of or relating to the practice of swimming underwater
See also Derived terms above


  1. That or who dives or dive.
that or who dives or dive
See also Derived terms above

See also

Extensive Definition

Diving refers to the sport of performing acrobatics whilst jumping or falling into water from a platform or springboard of a certain height. Diving is an internationally-recognized sport that is part of the Olympic Games. In addition, unstructured and non-competitive diving is a common recreational pastime in places where swimming is popular.
While not a particularly popular participant sport, diving is one of the more popular Olympic sports with spectators. Successful competitors possess many of the same characteristics as gymnasts and competitive cheerleaders, including strength, flexibility, kinaesthetic judgment and air awareness.
In the recent past, the success and prominence of Greg Louganis led to American strength internationally. More recently, the greatest diving nation has been China, which 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. Other powers are generally those which import Chinese coaches, including Australia and Canada.

Competitive diving

Diving and Other Sports

Divers do not consider themselves swimmers. While each sport shares a pool, and may compete side by side when doing so for their schools, the two sports are very different. Swimming is a full body exercise with emphasis on upper body strength and speed, diving is a full body exercise with emphasis on grace and execution; swimmers most frequently suffer overuse injuries, divers most frequently suffer impact injuries or strains.
The sister sport of diving is gymnastics. Many divers begin their training as gymnasts, and switch sports for one reason or another. Two of the most common are that they simply prefer diving, or that they develop a chronic injury that makes continuing gymnastics impossible. Gymnastics provides young divers with unique skills that help them perform complex and risky dives, but there are downsides; some habits developed in gymnastics can interfere with the correct technique of diving.


The global governing body of diving is FINA, which also governs swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo and open water swimming. Almost invariably, at national level, diving shares a governing body with the other aquatic sports.
This is frequently a source of political friction as the committees are naturally dominated by swimming officials who do not necessarily share or understand the concerns of the diving community. Divers often feel, for example, that they do not get adequate support over issues like the provision of facilities. Other areas of concern are the selection of personnel for the specialised Diving committees and for coaching and officiating at events, and the team selection for international competitions.
There are sometimes attempts to separate the governing body as a means to resolve these frustrations, but they are rarely successful. For example, in the UK the Great Britain Diving Federation was formed in 1992 with the intention of taking over the governance of Diving from the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association). Although it initially received widespread support from the diving community, the FINA requirement that international competitors had to be registered with their National Governing Body was a major factor in the abandonment of this ambition a few years later.
Since FINA refused to rescind recognition of the ASA as the British governing body for all aquatic sports including diving, this meant that the elite divers had to belong to ASA affiliated clubs in order to be eligible for selection to international competition.
In the United States scholastic diving is almost always part of the school’s swim team. Diving is a separate sport in Olympic and Club Diving. The NCAA will separate diving from swimming in special diving competitions after the swim season is completed.


There is a general perception of diving as being a dangerous activity, and this has contributed to the decline in availability of facilities. In fact, despite the apparent risk, the statistical incidence of injury in supervised training and competition is extremely low.
The majority of accidents that are classified as 'diving-related' are incidents caused by individuals jumping from structures such as bridges or piers into water of inadequate depth. Because of this many beaches and pools prohibit diving in shallow waters or when a lifeguard is not on duty.
After an incident in Washington state in 1993, most US and other pool builders are reluctant to equip a residential swimming pool with a diving springboard, so home diving pools are much less common these days. In the incident 14-year-old Shawn Meneely made a "suicide dive" (his hands at his sides - so his head hit the bottom first) in a private swimming pool and was seriously injured (tetraplegic). Family lawyer Fred Zeder successfully sued the diving board manufacturer, the pool builder, and the National Spa & Pool Institute over the inappropriate depth of the pool. The NSPI had specified a minimum depth of 7 ft 6 in (2.55m) which proved to be insufficient in the above case. The pool into which Meneelly dove was not constructed exactly to the published standards. The standards had changed after the diving board was installed on the non-compliant pool by the homeowner. But the courts held that the pool "was close enough" to the standards to hold NSPI liable. The multi-million dollar lawsuit was eventually settled in 2001 for $6,600,000USD ($US8,000,000 after interest was added) in favor of the plaintiff. The NSPI was held to be liable, and was financially strained by the case. It filed twice for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was successfully reorganized into a new swimming pool industry association.
Within competitive diving, FINA takes regulatory steps to ensure that athletes are protected from the inherent dangers of the sport. For example, they impose restrictions according to age on the heights of platforms which divers may compete on.
Group D (11 & under): 5m
Group C (12/13 year): 5m & 7.5m
Group B (14/15 year): 5m, 7.5m & 10m
Group A (16/18 year): 5m, 7.5m & 10m
Group D divers have only recently been allowed to compete tower at all. In the past, the age group could compete only springboard, in order to discourage young children from taking on the greater risks of tower diving. Group D tower was introduced to counteract the phenomenon of coaches pushing young divers to compete in higher age categories, thus putting them at even greater risk.
However, some divers may safely dive in higher age categories in order to dive on higher platforms. Usually this occurs when advanced Group C divers wish to compete on the 10m.

Dive groups

There are six "groups" into which dives are classified: Forward, Back, Inward, Reverse, Twist, and Armstand. The latter applies only to Platform competitions, whereas the other five apply to both Springboard and Platform.
  • In the Forward Group (Group 1), the diver takes off facing forwards and rotates forwards
  • In the Back Group (2), the diver takes off with their back to the water and rotates backwards
  • In the Reverse Group (3), the diver takes off facing forwards and rotates backwards
  • In the Inward Group (4), the diver takes off with their back to the water and rotates forwards
  • Any dive incorporating an axial twisting movement is in the Twist group (5).
  • Any dive commencing from a handstand is in the Armstand group (6).(only on platform)

Dive positions

During the flight of the dive, one of the four positions may be specified:
  • Straight - with no bend at the knees or hips
  • Pike - with knees straight but a tight bend at the hips
  • Tuck - body folded up in a tight ball, hands holding the shins and toes pointed.
  • Free - Some sequence of the above positions.
These positions are referred to by the letters A, B,C and D respectively.

Dive numbers

In competition, the dives are referred to by a schematic system of three- or four-digit numbers. The letter to indicate the position is appended to the end of the number.
The first digit of the number indicates the dive group as defined above.
For groups 1 to 4, the number consists of three digits. The third digit represents the number of half-somersaults. The second one is either 0 or 1; with 1 signifying a "flying" variation of the basic movement: ie the first half somersault is performed in the straight position, and then the piked or tucked shape is assumed.
For example:
  • 101A - Forward Dive Straight
  • 203C - Back one-and-a-half somersaults, tuck
  • 307c - Reverse three-and-a-half somersaults, tuck
  • 113B - Flying forward one-and-a-half somersaults, pike
For Group 5, the dive number has 4 digits. The second one indicates the group (1-4) of the underlying movement; the third digit indicates the number of half-somersaults, and the fourth indicates the number of half-twists.
For example:
  • 5211A - Back dive, half twist, straight position.
  • 5337D - Reverse one and a half somersaults with three and a half twists, in the Free position.
For Group 6 - Armstand - the dive number has either three, four or five digits: Three digits for dives without twist and four for dives with twists.
In non-twisting armstand dives, the second digit indicates the direction of rotation (0 = no rotation, 1 = forward, 2 = backward, 3 = reverse, 4 = inward) and the third digit indicates the number of half-somersaults. Inward-rotating armstand dives have never been performed, and are generally regarded as physically impossible.
For example:
  • 600A - Armstand dive straight
  • 612B - Armstand forward somersault pike
  • 624c - Armstand back double somersault tuck
For twisting Armstand dives, the dive number again has 4 digits, but rather than beginning with the number 5, the number 6 remains as the first digit, indicating that the "twister" will be performed form an Armstand. The second digit indicates the direction of rotation - as above, the third is the number of half-somersaults, and the fourth is the number of half-twists:
e.g. 6243D - armstand back double-somersault with one and a half twists in the free position
All of these dives come with DD (degree of difficulty) this is an indication of how difficult/complex a dive is. The score that the dive receives is multiplied by the DD (also known as tariff) to give the dive a final score. Before a diver competes they must decide on a "list" this is a number of optional dives and compulsory dives. The optionals come with a DD limit, this means that you must select X number of dives and the combined DD limit must be no more than the limit set by the competition/organisation etc.
Until the mid 1990s the tariff was decided by the FINA diving committee, and divers could only select from the range of dives in the published tariff table. Since then, the tariff is calculated by a formula based on various factors such as the number of twist and somersaults, the height, the group etc., and divers are free to submit new combinations.

Mechanics of diving

At the moment of take-off, two critical aspects of the dive are determined, and cannot subsequently be altered during the execution. One is the trajectory of the dive, and the other is the magnitude of the angular momentum.
The speed of rotation - and therefore the total amount of rotation - may be varied from moment to moment by changing the shape of the body, in accordance with the law of conservation of angular momentum.
The center of mass of the diver follows a parabolic path in free-fall under the influence of gravity (ignoring the effects of air resistance, which are negligible at the speeds involved).


Since the parabola is symmetrical, the travel away from the board as the diver passes it is twice the amount of the forward travel at the peak of the flight. Excessive forward distance to the entry point is penalized when scoring a dive, but obviously an adequate clearance from the diving board is essential on safety grounds.
The greatest possible height that can be achieved is desirable for several reasons:
  • The height attained is itself one of the factors that the judges will reward.
  • A greater height gives a longer flight time and therefore longer to execute the moves.
  • For any given clearance when passing the board, the forward travel distance to the entry point will be less for a higher trajectory.

Control of rotation

The magnitude of angular momentum remains constant throughout the dive, but since
angular momentum = rotational velocity × moment of inertia,
and the moment of inertia is larger when the body has an increased radius, the speed of rotation may be increased by moving the body into a compact shape, and reduced by opening out into a straight position.
Since the tucked shape is the most compact, it gives the most control over rotational speed, and dives in this position are easier to perform. Dives in the straight position are hardest, since there is almost no scope for altering the speed, so the angular momentum must be created at take-off with a very high degree of accuracy. (A small amount of control is available by moving the position of the arms and by a slight hollowing of the back).
Notice that the opening of the body for the entry does not stop the rotation, but merely slows it down. The vertical entry achieved by expert divers is largely an illusion created by starting the entry slightly short of vertical, so that the legs are vertical as they disappear beneath the surface. A small amount of additional tuning is available by 'entry save' techniques, whereby underwater movements of the upper body and arms against the viscosity of the water affect the position of the legs.


Dives with multiple twists and somersaults are some of the most spectacular movements, as well as the most challenging to perform.
The rules state that twisting 'must not be generated manifestly on take-off'. Consequently, divers must use some of the somersaulting angular momentum To generate twisting movements.


The rules state that the body should be vertical, or nearly so, for entry. The arms must be beside the body for feet-first dives and extended forwards in line for "head-first" dives. It used to be common for the hands to be interlocked with the fingers extended towards the water, but a different technique has become favoured during the last few decades. Now the usual practice is for one hand to grasp the other with palms down to strike the water with a flat surface (the so-called "rip entry"). This creates a vacuum between the hands, arms and head which with a vertical entry will pull down and under any splash until deep enough to have minimal effect on the surface of the water. Once a diver is completely under the water they may choose to roll or scoop in the same direction their dive was rotating to pull the splash away from the channel which they have just created.

American Diving

Divers can compete in several venues, which may may each have age and experience limitations.

Summer Diving

In the United States, summer diving is usually limited to one meter diving at community or country club pools. Some pools organize to form intra-pool competitions. These competitions are usually designed to accommodate all school-age children. One of the largest and oldest competitions in the United States is found in the Northern Virginia area where 47 pools compete against each other every summer (with over 380 divers in NVSL's "Cracker Jack" meet).

High School Diving

In the United States scholastic diving at the high school level is usually limited to one meter diving (But some schools use 3 meter springboards.). Scores from those one meter dives contribute to the swim team's overall score.
In each state there are usually two high school venues. The first is the public school competitions. The second is the independent school venue. In the United States public schools rarely compete with independent schools (see ISL) and almost never compete at the state championship level.

Club Diving

In the United States, pre-college divers interested in three meter or tower diving should consider a club sanctioned by USA Diving or AAU Diving. There is a group called Future Championship. Top club divers are usually called "junior Olympic," or JO divers. JO divers compete for spots on national teams. Divers over the age of 19 years of age cannot compete in these events as a JO diver.
USA Diving sanctions one East-West one and three meter event in the winter time with an Eastern champion and Western champion determined. In the summer USA Diving sanctions a national event with tower competitions offered.
AAU Diving sanctions one national event per year in the summer. AAU competes on the one, three, and tower to determine the All-American team. Ǎ

College Diving

In the United States scholastic diving at the college level requires one and three meter diving. Scores from the one and three meter competition contribute to the swim team's overall meet score. College divers interested in tower diving may compete in the NCAA separate from swim team events. NCAA Divisions II and III do not usually compete platform; if a diver wishes to compete platform in college, he or she must attend a Division I school. Each of the different divisions also has different rules on number of dives in each competition. Division II schools compete with 10 dives in competition whereas Division III schools compete with 11. Division I schools only compete with 6 dives in competition.
A number of colleges and universities offer scholarships to men and women who have competitive diving skills. These scholarships are usually offered to divers with age-group or club diving experience.
The NCAA limits the number of years a college student can represent any school in competitions. The limit is four years, but could be less under certain circumstances.

Master Diving

In the United States divers who continue diving past their college years can compete in Master Diving programs. Master diving programs are frequently offered by college or club programs.
Masters' Diving events are normally conducted in age-groups of 5 or 10 years, and attract competitors of a wide range of ages and experience (many, indeed, are newcomers to the sport); the oldest competitor in a Masters' Diving Championship was Viola Krahn, who at the age of 101 was the first person in any sport, male or female, anywhere in the world, to compete in an age-group of 100+ years in a nationally organized competition.

British Diving

In Britain, diving competitions on all boards run throughout the year. National Masters' Championships are held two or three times per year.

Canadian Diving

In Canada, elite competitive diving is regulated by DPC (Diving Plongeon Canada). The main competitive season runs from roughly February to July, although some competitions may be held in January or December, and many divers (particularly international level athletes) will train and compete year round.
Most provincial level competitions consist of events for 6 different age groups (Groups A, B, C, D, E, and Open) for both genders on each of the three board levels. These age groups roughly correspond to those standardized by FINA, with the addition of a youngest age group for divers 9 and under, Group E, which does not compete nationally (although divers of this age may choose to compete Group D). The age group Open is so called because divers of any age, including over 18, may compete in these events, so long as their dives meet a minimum standard of difficulty.
Divers can qualify to compete at the age group national championships, or junior national championships, in their age groups as assigned by FINA up to the age of 18. This competition is held annually in July. Qualification is based on achieving minimum scores at earlier competitions in the season determined by DPC according to the results of the preceding year's national competition.
Divers older than 18, or advanced divers of younger ages, can qualify for the senior national championships, which are held twice each year, once roughly in March and once in June or July. Once again, qualification is based on achieving minimum scores at earlier competitions; in this case, within the 12 months preceding the national championships.

Non-competitive diving

Diving is also popular as a non-competitive activity that is often simply done for pleasure or thrills. Such diving usually emphasizes the airborne experience, and the height of the dive, but does not emphasize what goes on once the diver enters the water. The ability to dive underwater can be a useful emergency skill, and is an important part of watersport and navy safety training. More generally, entering water from a height is an enjoyable leisure activity, as is underwater swimming.
Such non-competitive diving can occur both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor diving typically takes place from cliffs or other rock formations either into fresh or salt water. However, man-made diving platforms are sometimes constructed in popular swimming destinations. Outdoor diving requires knowledge of the water depth and currents as conditions can be dangerous. Despite these risks the activity has proven to be very popular due to its thrilling nature.
diving in Bulgarian: Скокове във вода
diving in Catalan: Salts
diving in Danish: Udspring
diving in German: Kunst- und Turmspringen
diving in Estonian: Vettehüpped
diving in Spanish: Clavados (natación)
diving in Persian: شیرجه
diving in French: Plongeon (sport)
diving in Italian: Tuffi
diving in Hebrew: קפיצה למים
diving in Haitian: Plonjon
diving in Dutch: Schoonspringen
diving in Dutch Low Saxon: Schoonspringen
diving in Japanese: 飛込競技
diving in Norwegian: Stuping
diving in Polish: Skoki do wody
diving in Portuguese: Salto ornamental
diving in Russian: Прыжки в воду
diving in Simple English: Diving
diving in Finnish: Uimahypyt
diving in Swedish: Simhopp
diving in Thai: กีฬากระโดดน้ำ
diving in Turkish: Dalma
diving in Chinese: 跳水

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Australian crawl, acrobatics, aerobatics, aquaplaning, aquatics, backstroke, balneation, banking, bathe, bathing, breaststroke, butterfly, chandelle, crabbing, crawl, deep-sea diving, dive, dog paddle, fancy diving, fin, fishtail, fishtailing, flapper, flipper, floating, glide, high diving, natation, nose dive, pearl diving, plunging, power dive, pull-up, pullout, pushdown, rolling, sideslip, sidestroke, skin diving, sky diving, spiral, stall, stunting, surfboarding, surfing, swim, swimming, tactical maneuvers, treading water, volplane, wading, waterskiing, zoom
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