Diving at the Olympics
Courtesy of: Rob Schumacher - USA Today Sports
BARCELONA, Spain, July 18. NEW rules have been set forth for four of the five aquatic sport disciplines in the past two days as the FINA Technical Congresses meet on the eve of the world championships.

The Technical Congresses are responsible for voting on new rules and other proposals in each aquatic sport, with voting members made up of members of various federations. Open water, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming held their meetings Wednesday and Thursday, with pool swimming's Technical Congress meeting set for July 25. The general Technical Congress meets on July 26.

As was previously reported, FINA has instituted a maximum water temperature of 31 degrees Celsius for open water races, which has drawn the ire of many in the open water swimming community. The temperature limit was suggested by FINA President Julio Maglione after extensive research by various governing bodies and independent researchers.

Diving was hit with a ruling that will severely deduct points on a dive where the athlete comes dangerously close to the platform or springboard. This seems to fly in the face of the objective of the sport and what many divers are taught: to execute a dive that stays close to the edge of the platform or springboard. Over the years, few divers have experienced bodily injury at major international meets since the widely-seen head smack Greg Louganis suffered at the 1988 Olympics. (Warning: Video is graphic.) The FINA Technical Congress stipulated that a diver will score no more than two points on a dive if he or she "is unsafely close to the springboard or platform." No guideline was given to determine how close is too close.

Also, a new mixed-gender diving team event was created that would feature one male and one female, and would only feature at the world championships and World Cup.

Water polo's Technical Congress was focused on the issue of making the game more exciting by forcing the players to move the ball more and not "execute time-wasting procedures." Though not specified, this could be similar to a rule in American basketball that prohibits a player from maintaining possession of the ball for more than five seconds while being defended. Also approved was a maximum team of 11 players and two goalies, and the possibility of adding timeouts to each quarter was discussed.

In synchronized swimming, a new highlight routine was approved, as well as a review of the scoring procedures that would make it easier for athletes and spectators to comprehend. Currently, teams and athletes are scored on a scale of 100, with 50 percent going to artistic impression and 50 percent toward technical execution.

The new rules will go into effect in 60 days.