By Coach Randy Wouters
This year, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy welcomed its first diving coach to the athletic department, Mr. Randy Wouters. While HT students have participated in competitive diving in the past, the school has never before had the benefit of having a diving coach on staff. Coach Wouters shares some insight into this fascinating sport below:
Diving is a sport that seems to gain moderate attention during the summer Olympics, but is happening year-round in nearly every country of the world. And no, we’re not talking about SCUBA diving. Springboard and platform diving have been around since the 1880s and have changed considerably over the years due to equipment upgrades and sport-specific training.
Diving is said to be the cousin of gymnastics, since many of the same flips and twists are performed from various heights. If you watched any of the Rio Olympic diving, you will have seen just how far the sport has come. Athletes are now pushing the boundaries of human physical limitations, doing dives such as the front 4.5 somersault from the 3-meter springboard and the 10-meter tower – which is the height of a 3- story building!
In high school, divers learn on the 1-meter springboard, which is 3.28 feet off the water, but when divers get a good bounce, it can propel them 3-4 meters into the air. When you multiply that height by the number of flips or twists a diver performs, the impact is significant. If you’ve ever done a belly flop from the side of the pool, you know how much that can hurt – now consider the impact of an incorrect landing from 10 to 15 feet in the air.
Typically, high school divers will learn a one-and-a-half rotation in every direction – front, back, inward, and reverse. Once they learn dives from every direction, they then learn to twist in at least two or three of those directions. During a regular season dive meet, each diver must be able to perform six dives, one from each category, plus an extra one determined by the week of the event. Each dive lasts only about 2.3 seconds, but the training leading up a dive may take months or even years of training with a qualified coach.
During regular season competition, each dive is scored by three judges and the scores are added together. Once added, the score is then multiplied by the dive’s degree of difficulty to give a final dive score. The highest recorded dive score in the Olympics was 114.2 points! To put that into perspective, a typical high school dive score is between 20 and 40 points.
At Holy Trinity, we focus on learning the basics and building from a foundation of correct habits on the diving boards. Our divers learn the exact methods of jumping high, being in control of their bodies, and staying consistent. We strive for absolute mastery for each dive category and excel in self-discipline on and off the boards. Our divers are very well rounded and gain the appreciation of having many talents in and out of school. They practice four to six times a week to gain mastery of each skill and to become experts in their sport. They must also study the habits of successful divers, the diving numbering and naming system, as well as anatomy and physiology, to fully excel in the sport of diving.
Divers must be in peak physical condition to perform at their absolute best. They become very good at listening to and taking constructive criticism from their coach and making the changes necessary to continually perform each dive better. They become mentally and physically tough through years of critiques and refinement. Diving is scary, challenging, and exhilarating to be a part of, but the intrinsic value of overcoming and pushing your body to new limits is what makes diving, in my opinion, the best sport in the world.