Going for the Rip

From our tablet issue: Senses

Diving is a sport of patience and constant practice. Multiple factors affect the success or failure of a dive, and sometimes the tiniest adjustment can make or break the final score. Ball Bearings goes behind the scenes of the Ball State diving team to learn about their dedication to perfect technique.


Diver: Quinn Bixler (Freshman Pre-Business Major)

Dive: Back one-and-a-half tuck
Dive Number: 203B
For this dive, Quinn Bixler sets the fulcrum to 6.5 and takes deep breaths as she moves to the edge of the board. While on the board’s edge, Bixler balances on firm feet while stretching arms outward to make a horizontal T-shape. After oscillating three times, she jumps outward while swinging her arms. Next, she moves her arms to her shins and forms the tuck position by bringing her knees to her chest. “I swing my arms around and grab into my tuck and hang on until I see the blue color of the board,” says Bixler. After she sees the board, she kicks her legs outward, pushes her arms toward the water and finishes the dive.


Diver: Brittany Penn (Freshman Actuarial Science)
Dive: Inward one-and-a-half pike
Dive Number: 403B
Brittany Penn starts her dive by setting the fulcrum to one and walks to the edge of the board to set her feet. She then focuses on her posture. “In my head, I count to four,” Penn says. Once in position, she does three oscillations before pushing off to start her hurdle. As she swings her arms, she pushes forward toward her toes to execute a pike position. After sensing one and a half rotations, Penn pushes out of the pike position and finishes the dive.



Diver: Madie Zirzow (Sophomore Speech Pathology)
Dive: Back one-and-a-half twist
Dive Number: 5233D
Madie Zirzow starts her dive by setting the fulcrum a bit past seven and walks to the edge of the board. She sets her feet in a semi-staggered position, something she picked up from her time as a gymnast. “Then I put my hands down to my side to make sure I have good posture and I count 1-2-3-1-2-3 GO,” says Zirzow. She then does two to three oscillations and pushes her arms outward to form a T-shape. As she pushes off the board, she moves her arms in a circular motion and places her right hand on the back of her head and her left hand on her waist. This allows her to twist as she is flipping through the air. After completing a full twist, she moves her arms back into a T-shape and pikes downward. Finally, she puts her hands together above her head and completes the dive.


Diver: Jamie Denlinger (Junior Landscape Architect)
Dive: Front one-and-a-half twist
Dive Number: 5132D
Jamie Denlinger likes to model the dive before stepping to the board. Once on the board, she sets the fulcrum to 7.5 and moves to her starting spot. After settling, she looks toward the end of the board. Her approach begins with a step from her right foot. “I’ll say in my head when my right foot goes ‘nothing, forward, back, swing’ for my arm swing and then when my arms are up right before I land on the board I try to make sure that my shoulders are directly over my heels,” Denlinger says. As she pushes off the board, she swings her arms and begins to flip forward into a pike position. “[Once I] see my toes come up at the ceiling, [I] initiate my twist by bringing my left arm to my back ribs and my right [arm] over my head,” Denlinger says. After she completes her twist, her arms move to a T-shape and then over her head to complete the dive.
Diver: Jake Brehmer (Senior Biology)
Dive: Front two-and-a-half pike
Dive Number: 105B
Jake Brehmer starts by setting the fulcrum at 8.5. He then moves toward the end of the board. “Once I kick off the board, I spot the water ’cause as I’m spinning, I see blue, white, blue, white. When I see the ceiling the second time I let my legs go and I drop into the water like a regular front dive,” says Brehmer.



Women can earn up to 265 points on a 1-meter board and 280 points on a 3-meter board. Men can earn up to 300 points on a 1-meter board and 320 points on a 3-meter board. If the board is higher, you can execute harder dives, therefore earning more points. 
At dual meets, you take two judge’s scores and multiply them by 1.5.
A diving board is made from high-grade aircraft aluminum rated around 50,000 psi. It is covered with an epoxy resin and a laminate of flint silica and alumina.The fulcrum is used to tighten or loosen the spring rate of the board. When set at a position of one, the board is unrestrained and very bouncy. The higher the position number, the more rigid the board will be.




Judging a dive requires a keen eye and precise attention to detail. Dive judges don’t give a score by how big the splash was or how pretty the entry was—they look at everything. From start to finish, a judge looks at how a diver handles their body while on the board, flying through the air and entering the water. Judges have to make a point decision based on what they see during the 5-7 seconds it takes for a diver to complete the process.



Divers are expected to have excellent etiquette at all times while on the board.
“We look at their movement down the board, what their body line looks like, posture, balance, body control,” says Ball State diving coach Nick Gayes. “If they go into their hurdle and they lose balance and double swing their arms, I’m going to deduct for that. Even if they crush the dive, they had a lack of control.”



After divers leave the board, they are judged on the mechanics of the dive. This includes how they twist through the air, hand placement, leg position, pointed feet, flexibility and head placement. Judges also look at the height of the dive and how close or far the diver is from the board. The average flight time for a diver is around 2 seconds, so judges have to critique the mechanics quickly.



Once the diver is done rotating and is about to enter the water, judges look to see how high above the water they are when they completed the dive. Judges deduct points if a diver is scrambling to finish the dive before they enter the water. They also look at how vertical the entry was. If the diver was long, meaning their legs are farther forward than where their head is entering the water, points will be deducted. Judges also look at the air bubbles that were made from the entry. If they are not directly in front of the board, points will be deducted.



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