High Diving: Show sport, not for faint of heart, makes world championship debut

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It’s nearly triple the distance of the tallest Olympic dive. It’s a sport reserved for adrenaline junkies, forcing bodies into highway speeds, putting up to 3Gs of force on nothing but a bare body and a Speedo.

High diving made its debut on the world circuit at the FINA world championships in Barcelona on Monday. Thirteen men and six women will take leaps of faith from 27 and 20 metres, respectively, as the sport itself moves from show to competition.

Montreal-native Stephanie de Lima will be the first women to make the leap from 20 metres when the females make their debut on Tuesday. The 25-year-old is the lone Canadian in the competition and placed fourth when the women debuted on the Red Bull cliff diving circuit less than two weeks ago.

Diving Canada technical director Mitch Geller said the height is more a leap of faith than a dive.

“The whole thing seems illogical. You cannot anticipate, you cannot envision entry,” Geller said from Barcelona. “When you do the high diving, you have to base a lot on faith. You have to make decisions as you accelerate towards the water.”

Geller is there with the Olympic divers who are there to compete and support de Lima. Asked what their thoughts were on the six- and nine-story platforms: “Everyone of them said not a chance.”

So for 27 metres, we give you 27 facts on the high dive in Barcelona:

200 steps: It takes this many steps to reach the top of the diving platform.

4, 2 & 1, for safety: To make sure the divers are safe, there are four scuba divers, two jet skis and one boat in the water near the divers’ entry. Typically, two scuba divers enter the water while the athlete makes impact to ensure they’re conscious after impact.

27 metres: The men’s platform is 27 metres above the waters in the Port of Barcelona, which is between eight and nine stories high.

85-90 km/h: Divers reach this speed before hitting the water.

3 seconds: The time it takes to go from platform to water.

2-3 Gs: Slowing down, divers will get has much as 3Gs of force as they hit the water and return to the surface.

1.5 seconds: The time it takes to stop in the water from a high dive.

13: This many men from nine different countries competed Monday.

20 metres: The women’s platform is set up two stories below the men’s at 20 metres or roughly six stories up.

6: The number of female competitors, hailing from four different countries.

1: The number of Canadians competing.

16-22 metres: The approximate height of the cliff at Canada’s Wonderland, where de Lima has performed in the past as a show diver.

28 metres: The organizers of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series say that after 28 metres, there is no significant increase in air time for the divers while speed and risk of injury is greatly increased. It’s also the maximum height for dives on the Red Bull circuit.

13 metres: If a diver were to pancake or belly flop from that height, Red Bull says the equivalent would be falling from 13 metres onto concrete.

9 times: Athletes feel an impact that is nine times harder from a cliff dive compared to the tallest Olympic dive.

10 metres: The highest diving platform in the Olympics is roughly a third of the high dive in Barcelona, with a platform 10 metres in the air.

2 seconds: The difference in air time between an Olympic dive and a high dive.

12 days: It’s been less than two weeks since women made their debut on the Red Bull circuit to when the first six fearless females dive at the world championships. The women dive at a maximum of 23 metres compared to the men’s 28 metre maximum.

2 feet: One of the biggest differences, besides the height, between Olympic diving and cliff diving is that divers enter with their feet first, instead of their hands and head.

10 metres: The last third of the dive is reserved to spot a landing and make adjustments to ensure as straight an entry to the water as possible.

149 dives: With five take-off positions, nine dive groupings and four positions, there are 149 different dive combinations.

4.1: The first two dives taken by the men Monday were limited to 3.8 and 4.1 degrees of difficulty, respectively. There are five more rounds to go, including an open category in which any dive can be attempted.

30,000: This many people are expected to take in the three-day spectacle at the Barcelona port.

8: There are this many stops on the Red Bull cliff diving world tour – the next one is in Boston on Aug. 25.

0: There are no Canadian men on the dive list for Barcelona, nor have any competed since Red Bull started the cliff dive circuit in 2009.

36.8 metres: The highest dive by a female ever recorded, in 1985 by American Lucy Wardle at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.

53.9 metres: In 1987, Olivier Favre completed a double-back somersault in Villers-le-Lac, France. The Swiss stuntman’s record still stands today.


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