Explaining Synchronized Diving

For over 90 years, the sport of springboard and platform diving remained unchanged. Only the 3-meter and 10-meter events were allowed in the Olympic Games from 1904 until 2000, when finally, the sport of synchronized diving was added to the schedule. It became an instant success and has remained a reliable crowd pleaser since its debut.

Synchronized diving (also known as synchro diving) is when two divers of the same gender perform similar dives at the same time. The result is a fascinating event with its own set of rules and guidelines for divers to learn and follow.

History of Synchro Diving

Synchronized diving has been around since the 1930’s, but was not considered a legitimate sport as it was only performed at aquacades and diving shows.

All that changed in the mid 90’s when in 1995, the sport debuted at the FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) World Cup competition. The thrill of watching two divers perform similar dives at the same time, along with a new sense of team unity that the event created, made the synchronized sport an instant hit among divers and spectators alike. Five years later synchro diving was added to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney Australia and has remained popular ever since.

Synchro Diving Rules

Although diving is diving, the rules do change when there are two athletes performing at the same time. Here are six rule changes that make synchronized diving its own unique sport.

1. The Number of Dives

For individual Olympic diving:

  • Men perform six optional dives.
  • Women perform five optional dives.
  • There is no limit to the degree of difficulty allowed for all the dives.

Synchronized diving:

  • Men perform six dives, two of which have an assigned DD of 2.0.
  • Women perform five dives, two of which have an assigned DD of 2.0.
  • The remaining four dives for men and three dives for women are the team’s optional dives.

Fun Fact:

Synchro divers perform fewer optional dives than those in individual events. In addition two of the synchro dives are required to have a designated DD value. This makes the odds of winning a medal in the synchro competition greater and easier to achieve.

2. Less Optional Groups

  • In synchro, four of the five groups of dives must be performed (forward, backward, inward, reverse, twister)
  • In individual events all five groups are required.

3. Forward Approach is Required

In the synchronized springboard event, one of the dives must be performed by a forward approach and cannot be done from the standing position.

4. Two Different Dives

The two dives can be different from one another, but they have to rotate on a similar axis.

For example, one diver may perform a forward one-and-one half somersault pike while the other diver will perform an inward one-and-one half somersault pike. Similarly one diver may perform a reverse dive pike and one may perform a back dive pike.

5. More Judges

  • Synchro has nine total judges
  • Individual events have five to seven judges

Two judges score diver “A’s” execution, two judges score diver “B’s” execution, and five judges critique the synchronization of the dive. In theory, even if a dive is performed poorly by both divers, the synchronized scores may still reflect high numbers.

6. Scoring Changes

The Final score is derived differently than in individual competition:

  • The high and low scores for the execution are dropped. The remaining two scores are added.
  • The high and low scores for the synchronization are dropped and the remaining three are added.
  • The execution score and synchronization scores are added together to give the raw score.
  • The raw score is multiplied by the dives DD.
  • That score is then multiplied by 3/5 or .6 and the result is the final score for that dive.

In an individual event, with five judges, the top and bottom score are eliminated and the remaining three scores are added and multiplied by the DD which results in the final score.

Finding a Synchro Partner

In order for a synchronized dive to look good and score high, the divers should be aesthetically comparable, with similar builds, heights and skills. This is important not just from a visual perspective, but also so that the dive can be executed at a similar height and speed.

Synchro Skills

The skills required as a team of synchro divers is also different than that of an individual performing alone. Even though the dives may be the same, trying to do one simultaneously involves a whole new skill set, some of which is outlined below.

  • Diving styles need to change: For example, one diver may only take four steps in the approach, whereas the other may take five; some divers like to count to three in their head and then go, but may have a partner that goes whenever they are ready; there are a multitude of differences—including how a diver starts the dive and kicks out of the dive—that a synchro team needs to standardize before the dive can be truly synched.
  • Synchro divers need to handle distraction: Individual divers are not used to distraction in their takeoff or execution of the dive. When adding an additional partner to the diving realm, distraction becomes normal and necessary. From the moment the diver takes off, his partner will be in his line of sight. He needs to train himself to become accustomed to this new stimulus.
  • Assigning and learning to follow verbal cues: One of the team members will be assigned to use verbal cues to help synchronize the dive. These prompts signal when to walk to the end of the platform and when to initiate the dive, since the team needs to match from the moment their names are called until they enter the water.

Welcome Addition to Diving

Synchronized diving is a fun sport that is a welcome addition to the diving world. Divers and audiences alike are sure to see this new event become a dominant force in the future of the Olympic Games.

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