[REAL VERSION] London 2012

REAL VERSION

Full coverage on NBC through August 12

Olympics Primer: How to Watch Diving

Everything you need to know to watch Olympics diving

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    Brittany Viola, a member of the U.S. diving team, competes in the women's 10m platform.

    When it happens:
    July 29 to Aug. 11

    How it became a sport:
    Greg Louganis’ winning gold after slamming his head on a springboard in 1988 remains the signature moment of a sport that has been around for more than a century. Diving’s roots go back even further, to the 1800s, when German and Swedish gymnasts decamped each summer to the beach, where they practiced acrobatics in the surf. That evolved into “fancy diving,” which debuted at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis with two events: the 10m platform, which remains, and the “plunge for distance,” which was scrapped after critics pointed out that it required no particular skill. Women’s diving was introduced in 1912, synchronized diving in 2000.

    The Germans and Swedes dominated the sport early on, but were soon overtaken by the Americans, who have won 47 gold medals (four by Louganis). Today there are eight Olympic diving events: men’s and women’s springboard (individual and synchronized), and men’s and women’s platform (individual and synchronized).

    What it takes:
    A diver’s performance is broken down into several parts: the run-up, takeoff, mid-air maneuvers, and entering the water. There are six basic maneuvers: forward, backward, reverse, inward, twisting, and arm stand. Within those maneuvers there are four basic body positions: pike, straight, tuck, and free (combinations).

    Judges watch for posture, balance, control, grace, difficulty and minimal splash. Synchronized divers are also evaluated by coordination.

    How you win:
    A panel of judges scores each dive on a scale of 0 to 10. The highest and lowest scores are discarded, and the remaining grades are tallied based on a formula that takes into account the dive’s difficulty. In individual events, there are three rounds: preliminary, semifinal and final. Synchronized has only one round. In each round, men dive six times, women five.

    What’s the lingo?
    Pike: The diver hinges at the waist, legs straight

    Gainer: Diving slang for a reverse, in which the diver faces the water, rotates backward into a somersault and hits the water feet-first.

    Cutaway: Diving slang for an inward, in which the diver faces away from the water and roils forward in the air.

    Tuck: The diver curls into a ball, legs pulled close to the body.

    More information

    USA Diving

    London 2012

    NBC Olympics