Diving is a popular event for spectators, but it can also be rather confusing. We know that divers are rewarded for minimizing their splash, but what exactly does that mean and how do they do it?
The ideal water entry, called a rip entry by divers, requires a diver to hit the water in a vertical orientation with their arms braced and palms held flat over their head. Striking the water tears open a cavity for the athlete’s body to enter. To minimize splash, the diver wants to fall into this expanding cavity without striking the sides, which would throw up an additional splash. This is the reason for vertical entry. Hand position is also important. If the athlete were to point their fingers, they would create a narrower cavity and larger splash.
After the athlete enters the water, the cavity closes off under the surface and the water rebounds in a splashy Worthington jet. For the speed and size of human divers, this later splash is essentially unavoidable. What the commentators don’t really tell you, though, is that diving judges are only supposed to judge a diver’s entry up to the point that their feet go under the surface. They’re instructed to ignore everything that happens underwater and after entry. So that big rebound splash we all see isn’t meant to count! (Image credits: A. Pretty/GettyImages; kaorigoto, source)
Previously: Minimizing splash by being hydrophilic; the physics of skipping rocks and avoiding splashback at the urinal