Different Types of Diving Competitions
Competition is a fun part of every sport. It is designed to test your skills under pressure, and also help grow you as an athlete and person. However, not all competitions are equal.
Diving has different types of competition that range from purely recreational to highly competitive. Some diving competitions will be open to all divers, whereas others will require qualification. Some will be for a national championship, while others will simply be for experience.
If you are interested in the competitive world of diving, it is good to have a basic understanding of the competitions involved. Here is a list of some types of meets you may encounter on your path.
One of the first types of competition many divers experience is with a summer recreational program. These competitions last only a day, usually for three to four hours. Generally divers will perform three to five dives on either the 1-meter or 3-meter springboard.
Recreational meets are a great way to get a taste for the competitive world of diving. If a diver then chooses to continue in the sport, they will generally advance to an age group team.
Age Group Diving
Age group competitions are the next level in competitive diving. These types of competitions are divided into categories based on age. Each age group has a mandatory number of dives they must perform: A set number of compulsory and optional dives. Here is the breakdown of the age groups and the dive requirements for each:
- 11 & Under: Six dives for both boys and girls. Of the six, three dives are voluntary and three dives are optional. The three voluntary dives cannot exceed a combined degree of difficulty (DD) of 5.0 on 1-meter and 5.4 on 3-meter.There isn't a DD limit for optional dives.
- 12-13: Seven dives for both boys and girls. Four dives are voluntary and cannot exceed a combined DD of 7.2 on 1-meter and 7.6 on 3-meter. The three remaining dives are optional dives without a DD limit.
- 14-15: Eight dives for girls and nine dives for boys. For both girls and boys, divers must perform five voluntary dives that cannot exceed a combined DD of 9.0 on 1-meter, and a combined DD of 9.5 on 3-meter. Girls will then follow with three optional dives, and boys will perform four optional dives. No DD limits are placed on optional dives.
- 16-18: Ten dives for girls and eleven dives for boys. For both girls and boys, divers must perform five voluntary dives that cannot exceed a combined DD of 9.0 on 1-meter, and a combined DD of 9.5 on 3-meter. Girls will then follow with five optional dives, and boys will perform six optional dives. No DD limits are placed on optional dives.
Different Types of Age Group Competitions
In general, age group competitions in the United States can be broken down into the following types of meets:
- Invitationals: These types of competitions are open to all divers. They generally last several days. Divers compete on all three levels: 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform.
- Regional: These types of competitions break up the age group divers into 10 regions of the country. Divers then compete against others in their region. The top 15 divers in each region advance to zones.
- Zones: These types of competitions break up the country into five sections. The divers who qualified from regionals will compete against each other in the zone competitions. The top six divers in each zone will advance to nationals.
- Junior nationals: The top six divers from each zone will compete against each other. Divers who win these meets are given the title of national champion.
Senior diving is for competitive divers who are older than 18 years of age. It is broken into men's and women's events. Divers must perform the following number of dives:
- Men: Six dives in each event (1-meter, 3-meter, and 10-meter). Each diving list must have a minimum combined DD of 15.4 on the 1-meter, 16.8 on the 3-meter, and 16.3 on the 10-meter.
- Women: Five dives in each event (1-meter, 3-meter, and 10-meter). Each diving list must have a minimum combined DD of 11.4 on the 1-meter, 13.1 on the 3-meter, and 13.2 on the 10-meter.
Age group divers may also compete in senior diving, but they must be able to perform the dive requirements detailed above.
Categories of Meets
Senior competition is comprised of the following types of meets:
Prior to 2005, the top two finishers in each event at the Olympic diving trials made the Olympic team. However, after a poor showing at the 2004 Olympics, USA Diving changed its policy. In 2008, the U.S. started to select the Olympic team not only from the outcome of the trials, but also from a team selection camp held after the trials.
- Invitational meets: Open to all divers who are eligible to compete in a senior competition. It is a time to gain experience and prepare for qualification meets.
- Qualification meets (zones): In senior diving, the United States is divided into four zones. In each of the four zones, the top six divers in each event will qualify for the national competition.
- Senior nationals: This competition is designed for the top men and women divers in the country.
Divers who perform well at nationals can be selected to be part of the USA Diving National Team which represents the United States in international competition. However to make an Olympic team, divers need to place in the top four in the Olympic Trials and perform well at an Olympic team selection camp.
There is a lot of overlap in competitive diving. Many divers who compete in age group events also compete in senior competition. Additionally, many competitions include both age group and senior categories. As you grow in the sport of diving, you will likely encounter all of these types of competitions, plus many more.
Just remember competition is a process. If you can enjoy the meet, whether you are competing for a National Championship or merely to gain experience, you will reap the benefits of competition.