It is said that extreme hobbies usually require a budget, lots of travel and hordes of equipment, but that’s not the case. While Diving isn’t considered an ‘extreme’ sport, it will get your adrenaline level to an all new high. It doesn’t require a budget to enjoy and practice as a hobby, nor does it require equipment or for you to travel around the world to enjoy what Diving has to offer.
Before you read further, note that Diving basically means hurling yourself into a body of water, either off a diving board into a swimming pool at different heights, off the side of a cliff into the ocean or a pool of natural water. It does not however mean diving off anything into a body of water, such as bridges, or into unregulated lakes and other locations where there’s no help at hand or someone on duty to make sure you get the timely help you need if you are injured.
While Diving can be considered a very safe hobby to participate in and enjoy, nothing, no matter how basic, is 100% safe. Crossing the road, driving a car, flying, nothing is 100% safe no matter what. Rule of thumb, when you are hurling yourself from different heights into a body of water: be safe.
The great thing about diving is that it is not at all hard to get into as a hobby. You can practice it at any swimming pool with a high diving board or location with a diving platform, and you don’t need special equipment as with sports such as scuba diving. As long as you know how to swim and have the drive to excel and truly enjoy the hobby, then it is a great one to get involved in.
History of diving
Since the beginning of time, people have poked nature and sometimes dived and hurled themselves right at it; or in it as is the case with Diving. Whether it was skinny dipping or proving their loyalty to kings and leaping off cliffs into water, or simply having fun by jumping into pools, diving has been practiced by people for centuries whether they knew it or not.
During some periods in time, it was mainly used as a measure of courage, the Romans for one would have their soldiers swim for long periods of time to test their endurance, sometimes having them dive into a pool of freezing water, in some cases, crocodile infested, and see how fast they could get out, if at all.
Leaping from high platforms into water hasn’t only been taken up by the sports sector, it is used for entertainment purposes too. Take circuses for example; years ago, it was a main attraction, the brave divers that would take to the tip of the tent and dive into a seemingly small body of water and survive it! But diving is not the single most popular sport with spectators because it is entertaining, it is also exciting, thrilling, and when practiced by diving professionals who show off the gymnastic and acrobatic skills in the air, it can be breath taking.
Getting involved and turning Diving into a hobby is not at all difficult, in fact it is rather simple but there are several steps to take beforehand. First off you need to get into shape, you need to be fit and ease yourself into things by going on morning runs and swimming a few times a week before you take to the high board. Simply put, you need to flex your body and get it ready. Alternatively you can just start diving at zero height and work your way up very slowly, staying at the same height for at least a few dozen dives before moving up a little.
Preparation is the key, then it is all about learning the basic dives and mastering them, that comes with practice. There are six main dive groups and five main dives. The dive groups include forward, back, reverse and inward groups among others and the dives consist of straight, pike, tuck, flying and free dives.
• in the Forward Group, the diver takes off facing forward and rotates forward
• in the Back Group the diver takes off with their back to the water and rotates backward
• in the Reverse Group, the diver takes off facing forward and rotates backward
• in the Inward Group, the diver takes off with their back to the water and rotates forward
• any dive incorporating an axial twisting movement is in the Twist group
• any dive commencing from a handstand is in the Armstand group
Understanding the Dive
During the flight of the dive, one of the five positions may be specified: straight , pike, tuck , free, and flying.
If you are looking to get involved in competitions, beyond learning the dives, practicing and hopefully mastering them, you need to actually understand the Dive itself.
When you take that leap into thin air, whether it is off a diving platform or even the side of a cliff into the ocean, you go into what’s better known as ‘free fall’. This is where gravity becomes the only physical force around your body, the only thing accelerating you with absolutely no resistance. It is not like running down a steep hill, for example, or even snowboarding down the Alps; no, with diving and your body going into free fall, there’s no friction, period. There’s even little to almost no air resistance if you dive it just right. Remember, gravity is one of the most powerful forces on Earth; after all, it keeps everything and everyone from floating into outer space.
When you dive, this gravity pulls you closer to earth, or the pool/ocean, with no obstacles in its path to slow it down. If you want numbers to crunch, then you will be falling at almost 10 meters a second, just over 32 feet. If you want a breakdown of what this means, realize that since time becomes a factor in the free fall, the longer you keep falling, the faster you will be going. What happens is known as acceleration and every single second you are falling, there’s an increase in velocity for the next second and so on. Think snowball effect but in terms of speed—that’s basically how it plays out.
Cliff diving became an actual recognized Olympic sport in the summer of 1996 when the World High Diving Federation (WHDF) was created. Now, years later, cliff divers, hobbyists just like yourself, travel the globe in search of that perfect dive, the most awesome spot, the adrenaline high of all cliff dives. Most of the cliff dive locations you will visit are exotic, beautiful and simply breathtaking from natural flowing pools in Switzerland to the hot tropics of Jamaica and more. Don’t let your mind drift, you are not cliff diving for the beautiful locations, remember, you are doing it for the gravity defying free plunging dive through nothing but thin air and extreme speeds into a body of water you can’t see past the surface of. Is your heart racing yet? It better be.
Other Non-competitive diving includes Shallow diving which is an Extreme Sport, whereby enthusiasts attempt to dive from the greatest height into the shallowest depth of water, without sustaining injury. It is typically associated with travelling circuses along with the Strong man, performing animals, clowns and other such attractions. Divers aim to hit the water horizontally in a manner akin to the Belly flop. This spreads the impact over the greatest surface area, and achieves the greatest deceleration.
Synchronized diving used to be a non-competitive diving sport but was introduced into the Olympic Games in 2000. The event features two divers who attempt to perform identical or mirrored dives. For example, if one diver were performing a forward dive in the pike position, the other diver would perform either an identical forward dive or an inward dive in the pike position, which mirrors its motions.
Take a moment to think about an average dive height of 6 meters. Once you take a dive at 6 meters, your body will be traveling at 40kph. Really stop to consider this for a second, if you are traveling at 40mph in a car and you hit a brick wall without a seat belt on or hitting the breaks, it is more than possible that it will be a fatal crash. And here you are, diving in your swim suit into a pool of water, if you hit the water wrong, wrong being if you hit it horizontally or back/stomach first, it is considered as hard as landing on solid concrete from that height. You have to make the jump and hit the water with your feet, straight, toes even, or fingers with your body a straight vertical line. A small 6 meter dive if made wrong can easily compress your spine and break bones.
Considering how there is a danger around diving from any height as injury is usually a result of a poor dive position or location, the WHDF has recommended to the general public that no one dive from 20 meters and upwards. Unless of course there is a professional team of rescuers at hand and located around the diving spot. It is not a law, but a recommendation that is voiced loudly so that everyone from those diving into a pool from 3 meter diving boards to those taking to the 20 meter cliffs, know about it.
Among the injuries that are caused by diving:
• Broken bones
• Compressed spinal chords
• Dislocated or broken discs
• Paralysation and even death
Some Diving tips for the Eager Hobbyist
If you just can’t help yourself or contain your excitement, and truly want to take diving on as a serious hobby, then you need to consider some of the following tips to help you master the art and manage to paddle away from a successful dive safely:
• Baby steps, there’s no shame in taking it slow and working your way up the ladder. Before you move up to higher dives, work on simple dives from lower boards first. Try to perfect your dive, landing, entrance into the water, pencil dive and more. Just be sure someone is around when you start off to be on the safe side. Try the pencil dive first with your feet pointed down and arms close to your sides plunging feet first, back straight. The aim of this dive is to make the point of entrance/impact as small as possible to reduce the force at which you hit the water.
• Again and this cannot be stressed enough, never dive on your own, especially when you are just starting out or diving from high platforms/boards. Always have someone with you, no matter how great a diver you become it is important to have someone with you. Be it a fellow diver or a watcher, someone who’s close but far enough not to obstruct your dive.
• If it is cliff diving that you are taking up, before you take that first leap, or any leap for that matter, swim around the area you will be lading in. Make sure it is deep enough, there aren’t any rocks or hidden obstacles that could injure you or prove fatal.
• Another important note to keep in mind if you plan to dive from cliffs is how you are going to get out the water. Many times novice divers take the jump into the ocean with waves high that break their dive and help them in a softer landing, but forget to check where these waves are headed. Whether or not they’re drifting and crashing into rocks/cliff side or worse. So make sure you know how you will be getting out the water, picture the dive then swim out how you intend to on the actual dive.
• Consider dressing right. A wetsuit is great for higher dives, or just about any dive, in fact. What the wetsuit does is give divers an extra layer of cushioning that reduces the force of impact on the body a little.
Taking up diving as a hobby is a great, healthy, exciting move that practically anyone can do, just about anywhere. Diving is available in almost any city, anywhere in the world so you won’t have to travel and pay costly fees to enjoy the sport. If you do choose to develop your diving skills and take up competitive diving as a hobby, then that’s easily done too. Simply arrive at meets and sign yourself up and impress the judges. It is a high adrenalin boost, low risk sport when all safety precautions are taken and diving is not abused.
Dive safe and you will be fine, but remember, as with any hobby or sport, or anything in life actually, nothing is 100% safe. Always take someone with you and most importantly, be safe and enjoy yourself!