Diving: Why Do We Do It?

Jul 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, USA; Philippe Gagne and Vincent Reindeau of Canada celebrate winning silver in the men's synchronized 10m platform final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

By Molly Lloyd, Swimming World College Intern

For as long as I’ve been diving, people have asked me question upon question about the sport – they range from questions about mechanics to technique to how scared we get when “throwing ourselves” off the board. People are curious about all sorts of things, but the one question I hear most often boils down to: “How do you do it?” or better yet, “Why do you do it?” Sometimes it’s preceded with “diving seems so scary,” other times it’s followed by “I would never be able to do it.” No matter how it’s asked, it never fails to make me think long and hard about the sport to which I’ve committed myself.

So, divers, why do we do it?

A typical practice consists of constant repetition of the dives you already know how to do, as well as learning new dives. When it comes to new dives, no matter how many lead ups you’ve done, no matter how many times your coach tells you you’re ready, and no matter how many times you tell yourself you’re ready, there’s always that one thing in the back of your mind: smacking.

The idea of hitting the water so hard, and at such a wrong angle, that you can give your self a bruise, or even a concussion, is incredibly daunting. But it’s also a part of everyday life when it comes to diving. Sometimes your foot slips, sometimes you crow hop or kick out too late or too early and things will go awry. So they’re not wrong, diving can be incredibly scary – sometimes I’d even describe it as terrifying – but even then, there’s something there, amidst the nerves and smacks, that keeps us coming back for more.

Jul 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, USA; Deidre Freeman of the United States competes in the women's 3m springboard final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

On top of being physically and mentally taxing, diving can be emotionally exhausting. More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve found myself crying out of the sheer frustration that comes along with messing up a dive over and over and over again. I’ll get it on the next one, we tell ourselves, this correction should be easy. When we mess up again, it’s difficult not to be too hard on ourselves. Even in meet settings, when we have to put on our brave, competition faces, it’s hard to maintain composure when we don’t perform at the standard of which we believe we’re capable.

So again, I ask: divers, why do we do it?

Maybe it’s the exhilaration of doing a dive correctly for the first time, or the satisfaction that comes from finally ripping and earning 8’s and 9’s on a dive you’ve been working on for weeks. Maybe it’s seeing the look of pure elation on your teammate’s face when they finally make their conference or national’s cut, or the kind, supportive camaraderie shared between all divers during meets. The silence of the crowd when you step up on the board, the refreshing rush of water over your entire body as you enter the water, and the roaring applause when you finally emerge from below.

All of this encourages us to keep going, to persevere, to be better. As counterintuitive as it sounds, there’s something about messing up a new dive that makes us want to climb back up onto the board as fast as we can, telling ourselves, “I can do better than that. I’m going to do this dive.”

Underwater Diving World University Games Gwangju 2015

Photo Courtesy: Gwangju Summer Universiade Organizing Committee

As divers, we scare ourselves every day, we push ourselves every day – sometimes farther than we thought we could go – and the experiences we collect from both failing and succeeding are the greatest motivations we could ask for. They reward us, they keep us grounded, they make us feel powerful and capable, and most importantly, they motivate us to keep coming back.

That’s why we do it.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x