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Swimming and … that other thing

Topics/tags: Rants, end-notable

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I appreciate attending swimming and diving meets. These days, I’ll admit that I enjoy diving more than swimming, and it’s not just because Middle Son took it up when he started college. Swimming is mostly about speed, or at least I don’t know enough about the sport to observe and appreciate subtle differences in form. Diving, in contrast, is about form and grace. I may not always be able to tell why a dive gets a four rather than a seven, but I can appreciate the form and grace of the divers [1].

Grinnell has had some fantastic divers who are a particular joy to watch. We currently have a diver who made nationals in her first year and continues to show great strength in her dives.

But it feels like diving ends up as a second-class citizen. Last night, the divers were doing the three-meter dives at the same time as swimmers were competing and there wasn’t a separate video feed for diving. And, while the video feed did show the divers in the distance, I hear from some parents who couldn’t be there that they often overlaid video of the scoreboard on the section of the video feed that showed the divers.

Today, I’m told that the video feed was much better. However, the list of divers didn’t show up in the heat sheet. I expect the absence was unintentional. But for those of us who want to follow along, it’s frustrating.

It would also be nice to have a separate scoreboard for diving. The few times that diving happened independently, it’s been wonderful to be able to follow along and tell how each diver is doing alone and in competition with others. There are times that I’ve set up a spreadsheet, but it’s distracting to try to have to get all the data into the spreadsheet rather than to pay attention to the divers.

I realize that we can’t hold diving and swimming at separate times. But that means that the divers have to put up with a lot of distraction. I’m not sure how they manage to do complex dives while people are shouting to swimmers just a few yards away or cheering G-A-C incredibly loudly just as they leave the board [2]. It must be particularly painful when people are swimming breast.

I don’t have solutions to any of these issues. There are significantly more swimmers (and swim spectators) than there are divers. We only have one scoreboard. There is not time to run separate meets. I also don’t think any of this is anyone’s fault. But it’s still frustrating to see these fantastic athletes get less attention and support than they deserve.

Postscript: My muse insists that I end this musing with a bad pun. Since divers(ity) is one of Grinnell’s core values, shouldn’t we pay particular attention to our divers?

[1] It helps that I managed to decode the diving numbers.

[2] Yes, that happened last night. A Gustavus Adolphus swimmer apparently took first in some event [3] and the team immediately shouted G-A-C. But a diver was jumping on the board at the time, doing one of those things I call a five dive [4], dives which I expect take particularly strong concentration.

[3] That’s not surprising; GAC is far ahead in this competition and their swimmers won many heats.

[4] Dives that start with a 5 include both a somersault and a twist. For those who care about the notation, the first digit after the five includes the starting position (1 is forward, 2 is backward, 3 is reverse [5], and 4 is inward [6]), the next digit is the number of half-somersaults [7], the next digit is the number of half-twists, and the final letter indicates their position in the air (A is straight, B is pike, C is tuck, and D is anything goes). Most of the five dives are done with a D. If you don’t like decoding dives yourself, you can always check a handy table [9].

[5] That is, jump forward and flip backward.

[6] That is, start backward and then jump toward the board. Those are the dives that make parents the most nervous.

[7] For example, a prefix of 512 means forward, one somersault, which means that the diver will enter the water with their fit pointed downward. In contrast, a prefix of 513 means that the diver will do one and a half somersaults, entering the water face-first [8].

[8] Well, arms first.

[9] Hmmm … that table includes flying dives. I don’t think I’ve seen those in our competitions.

Version 1.0 released 2019-12-07.

Version 1.1 of 2019-12-10.