Swim Library

History of Diving

HISTORY OF COMPETITIVE DIVING

Today’s Throwback topic is dedicated to diving, long before it became a competitive sport people enjoyed jumping and leaping into water off of bridges, rocks and cliffs!  In the early 1800’s it was called  “plunging” and very quickly became a competitions where divers would see which person could glide underwater the farthest after plunging head first form various heights. In the late 1800’s “fancy diving” came into play which involved somersaults and twists and as part of Germany and Sweden’s summer training gymnasts would move their equipment to the beach and it sparked a major interest in doing acrobatics over water!  It wasn’t until 1904 that Diving made its debut and men’s platform plunging and diving were the only events held, the event was really just a combination of both springboard and platform diving.  At the time the only countries that competed in this event were USA and Germany; awesomely enough the first winner of the event was an American named George Sheldon. Germany wasn’t too happy about our win and felt his dives weren’t as intricate as theirs but the problem with their dives were not due to the difficulty, but the actual performance because they kept crashing on their stomachs in their attempts (ouch)!  In 1912 women’s platform diving was added to the Olympic program but they were only allowed to perform plain dives without twists or somersaults! In 1920 the women’s springboard event was added but they still couldn’t do any tricks; it wasn’t until 1928 that women were allowed to perform fancy dives in the Olympics. The United States dominated the Olympics in diving from 1920 through the early 1990’s.  In the year 2000 synchronized diving was finally added and the Chinese men and women’s teams combined won eight Olympic gold medals and from there began to dominate the diving event. Also by that year the list of dives had grown to include more than 60 springboard dives, 85 platform dives, and 4 dive positions (straight, pike, tuck and free)! Due to the excitement of watching our Olympic heroes perform this variety of dives at great heights has made diving one of the most watched Olympic sports to date!

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