The Essential Guide to Understanding Dive Numbers

Yahoo Contributor Network

Diving is without a doubt one of the most captivating of the sports of the Summer Olympics. Watching divers soar and twist high above the pool leaves millions of viewers holding their breath in anticipation.

Watch diving carefully and you will see a number flash across your screen, perhaps 409b or a 5253b. Diving is a sport ruled by numbers.

The following primer will help you better understand the numbers used to describe dives so you can better appreciate the Olympic diving events.

Olympic diving consists of a total of eight events on two boards: 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform. Both men and women compete in the individual and the synchronized diving events on both boards.

Every dive, whether at the learn-to-dive level or the Olympic level is described by a dive number.

For example, a 109b is a dive where a diver faces the pool, jumps forward with 4.5 somersault pike position. There are six different dive positions, numbered 1-6. The first number of a dive sequentially represent the positions: front (1), back (2), reverse (3), reverse (4), a dive incorporating a twisting motion (5), or an armstand (6).

The second number is left at 0 for dive groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. The third number in the dive number represents the number of rotations or somersaults the diver does during a dive. A "9" is 4.5 revolutions, where as a "7" is 3.5 revolutions. An example would be a 307b, which would be a reverse dive with 3.5 somersaults in a pike position.

Twisting dives, or group 5 dives, use a four digit number to describe a dive. The first number, 5, indicates a twisting dive. The second number represents the position the diver starts from: front (1), back (2), reverse (3), and inward (4). The third number indicates the number of twists the diver will do, and the fourth number indicates the number half somersault rotations.

The armstand (6) is a unique word only used in the diving community. Armstand dives are only performed on for the platform events. The second number in an armstand dive number represents the position the diver starts on the platform in the same fashion the twister group utilizes the 1-4 position number. The third number says how many rotations the diver will do. Armstand dives generally have one less half somersault that other dives because the diver starts in a head down position. When a fourth number is added to an armstand dive it indicates an armstand twist.

The four or five diving dive number is always followed by a letter signifying the body position during the dive. A pike dive is when the knees are straight and the body is bent at the waist and is represented by a "b" -- while a tuck is give a "c". A layout dive, where the diver's body is held flat, is represented by an "a". A free dive, where the diver twists during a dive, is indicated by the letter "d".

Knowing how dives are numbered makes understand dives easier and more enjoyable in the fast paced sport of diving-

Cate Cook has been involved in many aspects of competitive diving for the last 10 years. She is currently Vice President of Dive Ontario.

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