Guest Post: The Abridged History of Diving

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Diving looks simple at first glance. You would be forgiven for thinking there is not much to it – a fleeting act of plunging into water performed with certain panache, or a prolonged underwater activity realized thanks to humanity’s technical prowess. However, it would not have become an Olympic sport in 1904 if a degree of artful finesse was not involved. The intrinsic nuances of diving are reflected in its complicated history which can be traced back to times immemorial. If you are interested to find out more about this renowned discipline, here is the abridged history of diving.

Ancient history

Humanity adapts to its surroundings. We have hunted on land and in water long before civilization became a thing, so discerning when exactly diving became a matter of human fascination is tricky. If we are to rely on recorded history, then we need to turn to Tomba Del Tuffatore, roughly translated as the Tomb of the Diver. This is the name of a burial vault discovered south of the city of Naples, Italy, and it was named after the painted roof slab. The painting shows a representation of a young man that dives from a platform. Precise dating of the tomb rocks shows that the slab is as old as 480 BC, which means that people were fascinated by the skill and the spectacle of jumping off the high cliffs long before we might think.

Spread of popularity

However, diving’s rise of popularity as a discipline began did not begin until the middle of the 19thcentury. It spread from Germany as a competitive discipline practiced by Halloren – salt boilers who showed off their swimming and diving skills, including the bridge diving into the River Saale. Diving was already a popular daring feat practiced in Sweden. Countless scaffoldings used to be erected around big lakes and somersaulting in perfect swallow-like positions was both a challenge and a way to best the opponent.

The 19thcentury was also the time when deep diving in the proper equipment was also a reality but the usage of such equipment was mostly limited to expeditions, research and ship repairs. While it was a far cry from the sleek scuba diving gear and accessorieswe have today, functional diving dress was pretty much a standardized matter by then.

The German way

The German swimming club Neptun kick-started international diving competitions in 1882 but the turning point for the discipline came in 1904, during the Olympic Games in Saint-Louis, when they pushed for the inclusion of diving into the program. Suffice to say, they were successful. This is the year when George Sheldon, the USA contestant won the gold medal on the 10-meter platform and this was also the only year in the history of diving as an Olympic discipline when the plunge for distancewas a part of the competition.

Believe it or not, this activity requires the contestants to jump off the side of the pool as hard as they can and remain motionless, frozen in a position until they hit water. One of the reasons to exclude this discipline must have been due to the sheer ridiculousness of how certain jumps looked.

Diving as we know it

In 1908, high diving from the tall platforms was introduced during the Olympic Games in London, and Swedish competitors pretty much dominated the competition. Rules and recommendations for judging were further refined during the FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur) meeting in Budapest in 1914.

From that day on, the rules were accepted as an international standard, though there were certain differences in nuance. For example, Germans put an emphasis on finesse and body position while Swedes also accounted for the courageousness of the jump.

When it comes to recreational deep diving, what began as a method of observing marine life turned into a widespread activity practiced by the adventurous tourists around countless worldwide locations. While it can a daring activity practiced by adrenaline junkies, it is mostly more than safe due to the rapid development of diving gear and technology.

Naturally, diving is a term that can denote a lot of aquatic activities. On the one hand, it has been the inseparable part of human existence ever since we were forced to learn how to hunt and survive in nature or perish. On the other hand, it has become a crafty discipline, something that can be a visceral showcase of effectiveness or a fancy flaunt of skill. The sport itself has seen numerous changes throughout the years, but the beauty of it lies in the fact that its very core, its purpose remains simple and pure.

About the Author:

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.

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