Diving in

Trevor Maxim | Staff Writer

The sport of diving, although it is not well known at Mason, has been a part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Swimming and Diving Championships since 1927, according to OHSAA.org.Freshman Sean Sargent, a member of the varsity diving team, said that he has noticed the misinformation about the sport among his friends at school.

“[People should know that diving] is a separate sport from swimming,” Sargent said. “They’re not intertwined, really, at all. People ask me what event I’m swimming all the time. I [tell them], ‘No, [I’m] diving.’”

But the most misunderstood part of diving, according to Sargent, is the scoring aspect. He said that the process of scoring the individual dives that the judges go through during meets involves a variety of factors.

“There is a degree of difficulty for each dive, depending on how hard it is to execute,” Sargent said. “And then after you do the dive the judges will give you an aesthetics score, which is how good it looked. And then [the five judges]…take out the highest and lowest scores, and then they multiply by your difficulty, and then that’s your score.”

Senior Taylor Edwards, also a varsity diver, said she agrees that students need to better understand what the athletes go through during their routines.

“I think the scoring about diving is really misunderstood,” Edwards said. “When judges watch us, all they look at is mechanics—if you go in without a splash, if you jump high, and then whatever score they assign for those things is multiplied by how hard the dive is rated to be on a standard scale.”

According to Edwards, the complicated judging criteria, along with the lack of expertise on the sport, often lead to judging controversies in competitions.

“Usually the people that judge high school diving meets are swim officials, and they don’t necessarily know that much about the sport,” Edwards said. “And I mean, any sport [in which] you’re going to have judges is obviously going to be diplomatic at every pool. And you just have to do the best you can and can’t worry about anything else, because it’ll just bring you down.”

Head diving coach Lori Rapp also said that the judging aspect of the sport can lead to misunderstandings, especially at the high school level.

“The scoring is supposed to start at 10, and then [the judges] are supposed to deduct from that, but most high school judges start at zero and reward[the diver],” Rapp said.

Rapp said that beyond the numerical scoring values the judges assign, they also are supposed to consider the dive in its entirety, without overlooking minor details that carry significant meaning within the dives.

“Judges are supposed to judge from the start of the dive — which means when the diver stands on the board, all the way through their walk, their approach, how high they jump, how close they are to the board, what their form looks like in the air and what they look like going into the water,” Rapp said. “Now, that’s not always how it happens, but that’s how it should happen.”

There are six main types of dives, called “groups,” organized in terms of rotation style, according to USADiving.org.

These groups include forward, backward, reverse, inward, twisting and armstand. Sargent said that the different diving styles can offer challenges to the athletes.

“I don’t really like doing anything reverse, which is where you’re going off the board forwards but flipping backwards,” Sargent said. “[I prefer] anything front, basically…just frontward flipping, normally, and twisting.”

Edwards said that students who are not familiar with the sport may also be surprised by its intensity. She said that diving involves both physical and emotional demands that are rarely seen in other sports.

“I think the biggest things [needed to be a great diver] are patience and mental toughness, because the meets are 11 dives most of the time,” Edwards said. “I’ll go do one dive, and then I might have to wait an hour before I do my next one. And you just have to be mentally prepared enough to know that you’re ready to do it without warming up.”

The difficulty of diving, although not always understood by spectators, is real, according to Rapp.

She said that the finished product seen at the meets is the result of countless hours of work, something that takes a special kind of athlete to accomplish.

“It takes a lot of risk [and] it takes a lot of time to perfect the skill [of diving],” Rapp said. “You can’t just come in as a freshman and practice a couple times and then pick it up. [Diving] takes many years to perfect.”

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