How Indoor & Outdoor Pools Affect Divers
In the course of a competitive diving career, divers will experience meets at a variety of pools. Each pool is slightly different from each other: Some are shallower, some have multiple diving boards to choose from, and some have platforms. However, the one variable that every diver needs to know how to adjust to is the difference between diving in an indoor pool versus an outdoor pool.
You might say, a pool is a pool, right? Well, this isn’t always the case in the sport of diving. The differences between indoor and outdoor pools are subtle, but the distinctions can interfere with a diver not accustomed to them. There are three common ways that indoor pools differ from their outside counterparts, and these differences directly influence a diver’s performance.
1. Weather Elements
The main distinction between indoor and outdoor pools should be obvious: The weather. At an outdoor pool, the weather will be a factor. If it is a hot day, the sun will drain you. If it is a cold day, the chill will tighten your muscles. Most indoor pools, on the other hand, are temperature regulated.
If you are used to training in an indoor pool that stays a comfy 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the abrupt change in temperature will affect your diving. Here are three distinct weather differences that you should prepare for:
- Wind: Strong winds can affect your balance on the board and your rotation off of it. In addition, winds can be just plain annoying. Hot winds can cause allergies to flare up, and cold winds can be difficult to handle when wet.
- Rain: Diving meets don’t stop simply because it is raining. Unless there is lightening, competition will continue. If you have not practiced in the rain before, be aware of: Disrupted vision, puddles on the end of the board or platform, and the effect rain droplets have on the surface of the water.
- Temperature: Adjusting to temperature affects your diving. From cold frigid muscles to sunburned skin; temperature variations will influence your performance. It is important to be prepared for these differences.
2. Pool Atmosphere
The general atmosphere is different from pool-to-pool. This is true of all pools. Some pools will have speakers and music playing in the background, whereas others will be located in a tranquil and quiet setting. However, when it comes to diving in an indoor versus outdoor pool, these differences are magnified. Here are three areas where this comes into play:
If you know you’ll be traveling to an outdoor pool for a diving meet, make sure you pack extra towels, warm-ups, blankets, and sunscreen. If you are prepared for the elements, your diving meet will be more comfortable, and likely more successful as well.
Outdoor pools have a variety of surroundings that indoor pools do not. For example, on the 10-meter platform at an outdoor pool, you may be as high — if not higher — than surrounding trees. The ceilings of indoor pools can often make it feel like you’re less than 33 feet in the air. But when you’re as high as the surrounding trees, you may feel a little more intimidated on platform.
In a similar manner, if you are used to diving at an outdoor pool, the enclosed space of an indoor facility can make you feel almost claustrophobic. Additionally, the very presence of the ceiling at an indoor pool can be intimidating! It can make you fearful of performing the dives you otherwise would do effortlessly.
The sounds present at two pools are also significantly different. Indoor pools usually stifle any outdoor noises. Sounds such as cars and sirens are either not heard in an indoor setting, or at the very least, muffled. Conversely, outdoor pools may be near busy roadways (and have all the noises that come with traffic).
Similarly, indoor facilities often amplify sounds. There is a natural echo that occurs at indoor pool facilities. Voices, music, announcements, and other noises can sound louder at an indoor facility. These differences — although subtle — will influence your diving. Be ready for them.
Lighting makes a huge impact on your diving. If an outdoor pool is located in a grove of trees or directly out in sunshine, the shadows and reflection of the sun on the pool will change your spotting ability within a dive.
Indoor pools can either be very light or very dark. Artificial lighting in an indoor setting — especially fluorescent lights — can cause your eyes to react differently during a dive. Additionally, shadows cast by natural sunlight coming through glass windows can also affect your dives.
Differences in lighting can interfere with your spots. Even though it is easy to adjust to these subtle differences, it is best to arrive at the pool early to prepare accordingly.
Your ability to spot your dives will be directly influenced by whether you’re diving at an indoor or outdoor pool. For example, if you are performing a 305C (reverse 2 ½ somersault tuck) on 3-meter, your spot may be the water. If you have been training at an outdoor pool, you might easily recognize your spot by the color of the water: The water might be darker than the sky. But in an indoor pool, the ceiling might be darker than the water. This difference can profoundly affect your spatial awareness.
At some indoor pools, the ceiling is dark. At others, the ceiling may be painted a lighter color (sometimes blue). As a result, it can be difficult to distinguish the pool from the ceiling. In order to accurately locate your spot, you will need to practice in the new setting. Notice the color differences and find your spot before you compete.
The best way to counter the various effects of indoor and outdoor pools is to come prepared for anything. If possible, arrive at the pool early, get in the water, and practice your dives. Get on the boards and take note of your surroundings: Are there tall buildings? Are there trees? Does the ceiling bother you? What sort of noise pollution is there?
Take note of all these differences and prepare for them. When you do, you will be ready to tackle your diving meet with confidence!