Even if you don't know your reverse tuck one-and-a-half somersault dive from your back pike two-and-a-half somersault with one-and-a-half twists, you can still enjoy the power and grace of Olympic diving. But sometimes it is nice to know what's going on.
Here, then, are some of the basic terms you'll need to know to get the most out of your Olympic diving viewing experience, gleaned from the USA Diving Rulebook and Diving Code. For pictures of many of the positions described below, see USA Diving's introduction to diving in the U.S.
Forward Dives: This is the most straightforward dive. The diver faces forward off the board and dives head first toward the water.
Back Dives: This is the same type of dive as the forward dive, except the diver faces the back of the platform. Again, the diver goes headfirst toward the water.
Reverse Dives: In a reverse dive (formerly gainer), the diver faces forward but does a backflip to start the dive instead of the forward dive's front-flip.
Inward Dives: This is the reverse of the back dive. The diver faces the back of the platform but does a front-flip off the platform
Armstand Dives: Here the diver goes into any of the other types of dive from the handstand position at the end of the platform. Armstands are not done on springboards for obvious reasons.
Twisting Dives: This type of dive can also be combined with any of the other types of dives. As the name implies, the dive consists of twisting around its vertical axis (as opposed to somersaults).
Pike: The coolest sounding body position (the OED derives it from the dive's similarity to the head of the fish), in which the diver bends at the waist and holds the knees straight with the feet together.
Tuck: This is like the pike with the knees bent as well. Think cannonball.
Straight: This dive is the one you're familiar with, if you've ever dived. There are no bends as the diver knifes into the water.
Other Scoring Categories:
Approach: It's easy to miss the approach if you're not paying attention. Don't. Not only does it set the diver up for success or failure, but the judges count the last three steps toward the dive as part of the score.
Entry: This may be the easiest way to ballpark the success or failure of a dive. The entry should be crisp and straight, with a vertical entry of the hands above the head or the feet. The less splashing the better.
--Bex Barker is an expert lake floater who'll be garnering tips on graceful aerial-aquatic performance from this year's Olympic divers with an eye toward mastering the dreaded no-somersault straight dive.
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