In Sync: A Guide to Synchronized Diving

In the realm of athletic artistry, synchronized diving emerges as a breathtaking spectacle. Seeing two divers launching themselves into the air, executing intricate twists, somersaults, and turns with uncanny synchronicity is impressive. The sheer beauty and teamwork of the divers are a marvel to behold. So if you’re interested in the sport – and perhaps thinking of trying it yourself someday – here’s an introductory guide for you.  

What is Synchronized Diving?

Synchronized diving is a competitive sport in which two divers perform a series of dives together from a diving board or platform. The goal is to achieve perfect synchronization of their movements, including take-offs, twists, somersaults, and entry into the water. The divers must execute their dives simultaneously, matching each other’s positions and movements as closely as possible.

Synchronized diving is typically performed in either 3-meter springboard events or 10-meter platform events. In each event, pairs of divers compete against other pairs, and judges assess the quality of their lives based on factors such as technique, synchronization, execution, and overall impression.

Divers must possess excellent coordination, timing, and trust in their partners to perform well in synchronized diving. They train extensively together to develop a sense of rhythm and timing, aiming to execute their dives with precision and fluidity. Synchronized diving requires a combination of individual skills and the ability to work in harmony as a team.

This sport is popular in international diving competitions, such as the Olympic Games and the FINA World Championships, where divers from various countries showcase their synchronized diving skills to compete for medals.

History of Synchronized Diving

Synchronized diving has its roots in individual diving events, which have been a part of the Olympic Games since the early 20th century. However, synchronized diving as a specific discipline emerged relatively recently.

Synchronized diving made its debut as an exhibition event in the 1930s. The first recorded exhibition of synchronized diving took place in Germany in 1935. It featured a pair of divers performing synchronized dives from a tower.

In 1991, synchronized diving was recognized as an official discipline by the International Swimming Federation (FINA), the governing body for aquatic sports. This decision paved the way for synchronized diving to become a competitive sport on the international stage. In 1998, the sport was included as an official event in the FINA World Championship.

Synchronized diving was included as an Olympic event only recently, since 2000, and has been a part ever since. In the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics, synchronized diving held contests for men’s and women’s 10-meter platform synchronized diving. The 3-meter springboard synchronized diving events were added for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Since its inclusion in major competitions, synchronized diving has gained popularity worldwide. The sport has attracted skilled divers and generated interest from spectators due to its unique blend of teamwork, athleticism, and precision.

Over the years, the rules and regulations of synchronized diving have evolved to ensure fairness and accuracy in judging. The criteria for scoring dives, including synchronization, execution, and degree of difficulty, have been refined to provide a comprehensive assessment of performances.

Today, synchronized diving continues to be a captivating sport at both the amateur and professional levels. It showcases the skill, coordination, and synchronization of divers as they perform complex maneuvers together, captivating audiences around the world.

Skills Required for Synchronized Diving

Synchronized diving requires a combination of technical, physical, and mental skills. Here are some of the critical skills required for synchronized diving:

  • Diving technique

Divers must possess excellent diving techniques, including proper body alignment, controlled entry into the water, and graceful movements throughout the dive. They should have a solid foundation in individual diving skills before attempting synchronized diving.

  • Synchronization

The most crucial skill in synchronized diving is the ability to synchronize movements with a partner. Divers must have a keen sense of timing and coordination to execute their dives simultaneously, matching each other’s positions and movements throughout the dive.

  • Adaptability

Divers should be adaptable and able to make adjustments on the fly. They may need to modify their movements or synchronize with their partner’s actions in real-time to ensure perfect alignment during the dive. Also, each diver may have different preferences in their approach, take-off, and execution. Synchronized divers need to align their styles, such as the number of steps in the approach or the timing of the dive, to perform in perfect sync.

  • Ability to handle distractions

Unlike individual divers, synchro divers have a partner in their line of sight throughout the dive. They must get used to this added stimulus and learn to stay focused despite the presence of their partner.

  • Trust

Synchronized diving requires a high level of trust between partners. Each diver must trust their partner’s abilities, timing, and movements, as they will be performing intricate maneuvers in close proximity. Trust is crucial for executing challenging dives with confidence.

  • Verbal cues

One team member is assigned to give verbal cues to synchronize the dive. These cues help coordinate actions, such as walking to the platform’s edge and initiating the dive, ensuring that the team matches each other from start to finish.

  • Teamwork

Synchronized diving is a team sport, and divers must work together as a cohesive unit. They need to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, support each other, and make adjustments during training and competitions to achieve optimal synchronization.

  • Mental focus and concentration

Synchronized diving demands strong mental focus and concentration. Divers must block out distractions and maintain a calm and focused mindset during training and competitions. Mental resilience is crucial to overcome pressure and to perform consistently.

  • Physical fitness and flexibility

Divers must maintain excellent physical fitness and flexibility to execute dives with precision. They need strength, endurance, and flexibility to perform the required movements and retain control throughout the dive.

Mastering these skills is essential for synchronized divers to achieve seamless coordination, precise timing, and synchronization from the moment their names are called until they enter the water.

Dive Groups

In synchronized diving, dive groups refer to the different types of dives that divers can perform together. These dive groups are categorized based on the direction and number of somersaults or twists involved in the dive. Each dive group has a specific set of requirements and difficulty levels. The dive groups commonly used in synchronized diving are:

  1. Forward Group (Group 1) – Dives in this group involve forward take-offs and are characterized by forward movements in the dive. The diver rotates forward, facing the diving board or platform during the dive.
  2. Backward Group (Group 2) – Backward group dives involve backward take-offs and backward rotations during the dive. The diver rotates backward, away from the diving board or platform.
  3. Reverse Group (Group 3) –  Reverse group dives involve backward take-offs but have forward rotations during the dive. The diver rotates forward while facing the diving board or platform.
  4. Inward Group (Group 4) –  Inward group dives involve inward take-offs and have forward rotations during the dive. The diver rotates forward while facing inward toward the diving board or platform.
  5. Twisting Group (Group 5) –  Twisting group dives involve twists along with somersaults. These dives can be performed in any direction (forward, backward, reverse, inward) and involve twisting movements in addition to the rotational elements.
  6. Armstand group (Group 6) – This group dives starting with a handstand position on the end of the platform before the dive.

Each dive group has a range of dives with varying degrees of difficulty. Divers must choose dives from different groups to demonstrate a variety of skills and to maximize their overall score in synchronized diving competitions. The selection of dives from other groups allows divers to showcase their versatility, synchronization, and technical abilities in executing dives with different movement patterns and complexities.

Body Positions for Synchronized Diving

In synchronized diving, divers are required to execute various body positions throughout their dives. These body positions are crucial for achieving proper technique, maximizing scores, and maintaining synchronization with their diving partner. Here are some of the key body positions commonly used in synchronized diving:

  • Straight position – The straight position is done by maintaining a straight body alignment from head to toe. Divers extend their arms above their heads, keep their legs together, and point their toes. This position is often used for entries into the water and for maintaining a clean line during somersaults and twists.
  • Pike position – In the pike position, divers bend at the waist while keeping their legs extended. The goal is to create a V-shaped position, with the head and upper body reaching toward the toes. This position is frequently used for dives involving rotations, as it helps increase the speed of the somersaults or twists.
  • Tuck position – The tuck position involves bending both the hips and knees, bringing the knees close to the chest while wrapping the arms around the legs. Divers aim to create a compact shape to enhance rotational speed and control during dives that require multiple somersaults or twists.
  • Layout position – In the layout position, the body is extended, with both the hips and knees fully straightened. Divers spread their arms and legs apart to create a wide, stretched-out position. This position is often used for dives that require a longer flight time, allowing divers to demonstrate elegance and control in the air.
  • Free position – The free position refers to variations or combinations of body positions that do not fall strictly within the straight, pike, tuck, or layout positions. Divers may incorporate different arm and leg positions to express creativity, style, and individuality in their dives.

Divers must master these body positions and seamlessly transition between them during their dives. The ability to execute these positions accurately, maintain control, and synchronize with their partner is essential for achieving high scores in synchronized diving competitions.

Synchronized Diving Rules

In synchronized diving, the rules for each diver individually are the same as the rules for regular diving competitions. But there are specific and additional rules that set it apart as a unique sport. Also, the format in which competitions are judged and conducted is different. Here are some critical areas wherein rules in synchronized diving differ from individual diving.

  • Number of dives

In individual diving, men perform six optional dives, while women perform five optional dives with no limit on difficulty. On the other hand, synchronized diving requires men to perform six dives, including two assigned dives with a difficulty of 2.0. Women are to perform five dives, including two assigned dives with a difficulty of 2.0. The remaining optional dives are chosen by the team.

  • Less optional groups

In synchronized diving, four out of the five dive groups (forward, backward, inward, reverse, twister) must be performed. Meanwhile, in individual events, all five dive groups are required.

  • Forward approach

In synchronized springboard events, at least one dive must be performed using a forward approach and cannot be executed from a standing position.

  • Two different dives

Synchronized divers must perform two dives that can be different from each other but must rotate on a similar axis. For example, one diver may do a forward one-and-one-half somersault pike while the other performs an inward one-and-one-half somersault pike.

  • Judges

Synchronized diving has 11 judges in total, while individual events typically have five to seven judges.

Three judges score the execution of diver “A,” three judges score the execution of diver “B,” and five judges evaluate the synchronization of the dive. This means that even if both divers perform poorly, the synchronization scores can still be high.

To determine the overall score, judges evaluate different aspects of the dive:

  • Approach: The steps leading to the dive should be smooth, forceful, and done with good form.
  • Take-off: The diver’s jump from the board should show control, balance, and the right angle and distance from the board.
  • Elevation: The height of the jump affects how the dive appears. Higher jumps allow for accuracy and smoothness.
  • Execution: Judges assess the proper mechanics, skills, form, and grace displayed during the dive.
  • Entry: Entry into the water is crucial as it is the final moment the judges observe. It should be vertical with minimal splash.
  • Scoring

In synchronized diving, the final score is derived differently compared to individual competition. The high and low scores for execution and synchronization are dropped, and the remaining scores are added. The execution score and synchronization scores are combined to give the raw score. The raw score is then multiplied by the dive’s difficulty level (DD). Finally, the result is multiplied by 3/5 or 0.6 to determine the final score for that dive.

Each judge gives a score between 0 and 10 in half-point increments, and here are the corresponding equivalents:

  • 10: Excellent
  • 8.5-9.5: Very good
  • 7-8: Good
  • 5-6.5: Satisfactory
  • 2.5-4.5: Deficient
  • 0.5-2: Unsatisfactory
  • 0: Completely failed

In individual events with five judges, the top and bottom scores are eliminated, and the remaining three scores are added and multiplied by the DD to calculate the final score.

These rule changes highlight the distinct nature of synchronized diving and the factors that judges consider when evaluating synchronized dives.

Equipment Used in Synchronized Diving

 Synchronized diving requires specific equipment to ensure the safety and performance of the divers. Here are some of the key pieces of equipment used in synchronized diving:

  • Diving board or platform –Synchronized divers perform their dives from either a diving board or platform. The height and type of board or platform can vary based on the event and competition level.
  • Diving pool – Synchronized diving takes place in a specially designed pool with a deep water section. The pool must meet specific dimensions and safety requirements, including a minimum depth for the platform events.
  • Swimwear – Divers wear specialized swimwear, typically tight-fitting and streamlined, to minimize drag and enhance their movements in the water.
  • Diving mask or goggles – Some divers choose to wear a diving mask or goggles to protect their eyes and improve visibility during practice sessions or training.
  • Diving shoes – Divers often wear diving shoes or socks made of soft rubber or neoprene. These provide protection and grip on the diving board or platform, ensuring a secure footing.
  • Chalk – Divers use chalk to enhance their grip on the diving board or platform. They apply chalk to their hands and feet to reduce moisture and improve traction.
  • Diving bag – Divers typically carry their equipment, such as swimsuits, towels, and personal items, in a diving bag for convenience and organization.

It’s worth noting that some additional equipment, such as audio systems for music during practice or competitions, may be used to enhance the overall performance and ambiance of synchronized diving events. However, the core equipment listed above forms the foundation for synchronized diving and is essential for divers to execute their dives safely and effectively.


Synchronized diving is a demanding sport that requires strong teamwork and compatibility between partners. Many synchronized divers also participate in individual events, each with their own unique style. However, in synchronized diving, divers must adjust their approaches to match their partner’s perfectly, which can be quite challenging. To overcome this, creating a system of cues, whether verbal or visual, can be beneficial. Mastering synchronized diving takes extensive practice, but when executed flawlessly, the result is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle.