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The roots of competitive diving can be traced to the 17th century, when gymnasts moved their equipment to the beaches, and acrobatics over the water became a part of their training.1 Diving became popular in Germany and Sweden in the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively.2 The amateur diving association began in 1901.2 Modern diving achieved international notice in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis when the platform was included as an event on the men’s swimming program. Three-meter springboard diving was added for the 1908 games in London. In the 1920s, the sport evolved from “plain high diving” to “fancy high diving” because the athletes performed more difficult dives.

Since 1904, Olympic diving has changed tremendously and is still progressing at a rapid pace. In the early days of the sport, 14 different dives were used on the platform, and 20 different dives were used on the springboard. Today, 63 different dives can be used in competition on the 1-m springboard, 77 dives on the 3-m springboard, and 97 dives on the platform. The degree of difficulty of each dive also has evolved. A double somersault performed from the platform was considered dangerous in 1904. Elite divers today perform reverse 3½-somersaults on a routine basis. Similar to gymnastics, the sport of diving continues to evolve as more difficulty is added to the dives.

Biomechanics of Diving

Six different groups of dives exist in competitive diving.1 The first four groups are classified based on the position the diver is in when leaving the board or platform. In a forward dive, the diver is facing the front of the board or platform and dives or somersaults forward toward the water. In a backward dive, the diver stands at the edge of the board or platform and faces inward, with the back to the water. The dive or somersault moves backward to the water. A reverse dive, sometimes referred to as a gainer, begins the same way as a forward dive, but after the diver leaves the board or platform, the rotation of the dive is backward, toward the board. An inward dive begins the same way as a backward dive, but the diver rotates forward, toward the board or platform. The fifth group is comprised of dives that include a twisting motion added to the somersaults. The final group is only used on the platform and includes dives that begin with an armstand (handstand).


Several elements compose a dive: the approach/hurdle, press/takeoff, flight, and entry.1 The approach and hurdle are used only for forward dives, reverse dives, forward twisting dives, and reverse twisting dives on the springboard. On the platform, an approach and hurdle are only used for forward dives.


The approach for the forward and reverse groups of dives is ...

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