First Olympic Appearance: 1904 (platform), 1908 (springboard)
by John Gettings and Mark Zurlo
Although cliff diving dates back to the Ancient Olympic games, it was European gymnasts, practicing their routines over water at the beach in the early 1800s, that we can thank for inspiring one of the Olympics' most-watched events.
The diving finals at Atlanta in 1996 were watched on television by more households than either the Rose Bowl or the NCAA men's basketball final that year.
The newest diving event, synchronized diving, debuted at the 2000 games. Based on an idea borrowed from synchronized swimming, two divers dive simultaneously for a combined score. Their dives are scored by a panel of nine judges—Four score technical merit while the other five score the synchronization of the dives. These judges carefully watch to make sure the divers mirror each other in elevation, angle, and pool entry.
All Divers are required to attempt a set number of dives that must be selected from each of the main diving groups. The springboard (3m high) competition consists of five groups: front, back, reverse, inward and twisting. The platform (10m high) competition includes all of those plus the arm-stand dive. Each dive is given a degree of difficulty rating which takes into account all the twists, turns, and flips the diver completes, and compares that to other dives.
For the London Games, the diving competition will take place at the Aquatics Centre, a state-of-the-art permanent structure boasting a 25m diving well, a "dry" warm-up area for divers, seating for 17,500, and a wave-inspired roof that is 160m long and up to 80m wide.
More from 2012 Summer Olympics