British diving legend Tom Daley has already made a splash at this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games as he and fellow Team GB diver Matty Lee take first place in the men’s 10-metre platform synchronised diving today (July 26).
The gold medal win marks the first gold medal win for Daley in his fourth appearance at the Olympics, with him having taken bronze in the solo 10m event at the London 2012 Olympics and gold at the 2016 European Championships.
But alongside Daley’s successful appearance at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre last Monday morning, viewers were left puzzled upon seeing the diving pools get sprayed with water, divers donning tape and showering after diving in events like the 10m synchronised diving.
Here’s why this happens.
Why do Olympic divers wear tape and shower?
Divers can often be seen wearing an unusual type of tan tape on their wrists or joints during Olympic diving events like the three metre springboard dive.
This tape, known as ‘k tape’ or kinesiology therapeutic tape, is a special kind of tape used to relieve pain in joints, ligaments and muscles – with divers donning it on areas which can hit the water during dives at high velocity to lessen the chance of swelling and help maintain mobility.
Olympic divers will shower after every dive in order to keep their muscles at a good, constant temperature when plunging into cold water in diving pools.
To avoid the possibility of muscles cramping up or becoming strained, divers will shower between individual dives as they fluctuate between cold and warm waters.
Why are some scores crossed out in diving?
Another puzzling thing viewers might see in diving events at the Olympics 2020 is that several scores will be crossed out during dives such as Tom Daley’s speciality – the solo or synchronised 10m platform dive.
During dives like this, viewers will see the two highest and lowest diving scores crossed out because this acts as a way of removing any possibility for manipulation on the part of the judges.
As such, competitors in all diving events – including springboard and 3m platform dives too – will aim to receive the highest total score for six dives if it is men competing, five if it is women.
Scoring takes into account the polish of a diver’s movements, such as how smoothly they combine the three types of rotation known as straight, pike and tuck, as well as how little they make a splash on entering the water.
When it comes to the synchronised events which saw Team GB’s Tom Daley and Matty Lee take gold today, teams are also judged on how well they match each other’s movements – with points deducted in half point increments from a perfect score of 10.
Why do they spray water on diving pools?
Those tuning in to watch the spectacular diving events that typically attract large, hushed crowds at events like the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 will be familiar with the sight of water being sprayed onto pools before every dive takes place.
For those less familiar with the sport, seeing this taking place might seem a bit bizarre.
Diving pools are sprayed with water to allow divers to actually see where the surface of the water is, so that they can plan their twists, turns and tumbles accordingly and know when to enter the water following any rotations.
When preparing for dives from platforms up to 10 metres high, divers can only see the bottom of the pool rather than where the surface begins, with water being sprayed onto it to allow them to dive safely.
There are also further safety measures in place to protect divers, with synchronised diving being a stunning but risky sport.
Without provisions like spraying water onto the pool, having a minimum pool depth depending on the diving platform’s height and the release of compressed air bubbles from the diving pool floor known as a ‘bubbler’, divers would be at a greater risk in being less able to judge where the surface of the water or from becoming injured by hitting the bottom of the pool at a high velocity.
According to the International Federation of Aquatic Sports (FINA)’s regulations, the minimum depth for an Olympic diving pool is three point two metres – with a five metre maximum pool depth for 10m platform diving.
Divers are thought to be entering the water in such events at roughly 35 miles per hour, meaning that without the cushioning of the bubbler in the pool they could possibly gain injuries like broken bones.