How to Get Started in Diving
Diving is a fun and exciting sport that can easily be learned and enjoyed. Whether it is learning how to do a basic dive or more complicated somersaults and twists, finding the right diving program is essential.
Finding a Diving Program
Looking for a diving program in your area may seem complicated and daunting. Many recreational pools have done away with diving boards due to liability issues. However, there are still several pools that offer diving programs. Finding them just might require a bit of searching.
The first place to look is the swimming pools search option on this site. Here you can find your local public pool or YMCA that house year-round swim teams. Most year-round swim teams offer diving programs or know of pools that do. Some pools offer summer programs that teach the fundamentals of diving: The approach, different groups of dives, and proper entry into the water.
If looking to find a competitive team, a great resource is the diving team search page. On this page you will find a variety of club diving teams that offer competitive programs. Club teams specialize in teaching the basics of the sport and the fundamentals of a dive. Most teams also have dryland equipment, including trampolines and harnesses to teach divers more complicated maneuvers.
After locating a local pool or club that offers diving lessons, the next step is to visit the pool and make sure it is up to the proper diving standards. First and foremost, confirm the depth of the water. According to FINA rules and regulations, if there is a 3-meter board, the pool should be at least 12.5 feet deep. If there are platforms, the water should be at least 16 feet deep.
Many backyard pools have slopes where the deepest water lies directly under the diving board, and that water is often too shallow. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 13,000 diving-board injuries a year are serious enough to be brought into the emergency room.
Approximately 800 of those injuries are of the spinal cord variety.
After sizing up the depth, take a good look at the diving boards. The boards should be approximately 16 feet long, made of aluminum or fiberglass and should have a working fulcrum (the roller on the side of the board that gives the board different levels of flexibility).
The diving boards should be straight - not on an upward angle, downward angle or side angle. This is important when it comes to doing particular dives, especially reverse dives and inward dives . When a board is on an angle, the lift of takeoff can propel a diver towards the board, resulting in a collision.
The third thing to look for at the pool is dryland equipment. This is equipment such as trampolines, a diving board over a foam mat or pit, and a harness system that can help a diver practice new dives. Some facilities will also have a bubble machine. A bubble machine produces a stream of air from the bottom of the pool to the surface of the water. This air pressure reduces the surface tension of the water and softens the landing. Many divers use the bubble machine when learning a new dive. That way, if a dive goes wrong, the belly flop, back flop, etc., does not hurt as much.
If a pool does not have dryland equipment, ask the coach if the team has any access to such equipment. It is not necessary to have this equipment when learning how to dive. However, as diving levels progress, this equipment can significantly help improve a diver's skills.
Fortunately, diving does not require a lot of expensive equipment. Besides the equipment that is offered at the individual facilities, a diver really only needs a few items:
- A swim suit: Two-piece bathing suits, although fashionable while sitting poolside, will not work when diving into the water. For women, a one-piece suit with shoulder straps (preferably a Speedo-style suit) is the best. For men, bathing suits with a drawstring or Speedo-style swim shorts or trunks usually work best.
- A shammy: A shammy (sometimes called a Sammy) is similar to a chamois used on cars, but is smaller and made out of a poly-vinyl material. Unlike a towel that needs to be hung out to dry, a shammy will dry almost instantly after ringing it out. This piece of equipment is extremely helpful when a diver is performing a multiple-somersault maneuver that requires grabbing the legs. The shammy will dry the legs and reduce the risk of a diver's hands slipping and causing the dive to go wrong.
- A bag: You don't need to get crazy with this item. Simply find a bag that can hold towels, a change of clothes and other personal belongings.
Diving doesn't require a lot of baggage. With minimal attire and supplies, it's a sport that can be easily enjoyed.
Patience is a Virtue
Performing multiple flips and twists at different levels of height is thrilling. However, learning those skills takes time - lots of time. Good divers make things look effortless, but in reality, these skills are difficult and often times scary.
The fundamentals, including the proper approach, form and entry, are essential to know. Without them, injury can occur and diving can become dangerous. Learning the fundamentals may seem boring. These skills take years to master and require a lot of patience. But once the fundamentals are in place, flipping and twisting becomes a lot more fun!