The somersault save is a technique used by divers on forward spinning, or inward spinning dives to accomplish three tasks:
- Slow down, or completely eliminate the over-rotation of a somersault.
- Increase and assist in the success of a rip entry.
- Provide a safety maneuver to reduce the chance of hitting the bottom of the pool.
Saves are now an important part of learning to dive, although this was not always the case. In the past, many divers, judges and coaches considered any movement underneath the water the use of an “unfair” advantage, although they are now an excepted practice and as stated in FINA rules;
Saves are a legitimate part of the technique of diving, and event though the saving action underwater may be viewed clearly, the diver should not be penalized. (FINA Diving Officials Manual, November 2006)
What is a Somersault Save
What essentially happens during a somersault save, is that the diver does a forward roll during the entry into the water in the open pike position – legs straight and toes pointed of course.
You may think that this technique sounds like it would be counter-productive, but here is why it is effective.
When a diver does this forward roll on the entry, it causes the legs to move in the opposite direction as the rotation of the somersault, thereby stopping the legs from over-rotating, and going past vertical. While not always precise, in a split second, the somersault save can give the illusion that the dive is vertical.
Therein lies the key – the perception that the legs are vertical. If the somersault save is executed properly, that perception becomes reality in a judges’ mind, and thus a higher score.
The Safety Issue
Somersault saves are also important as a safety factor. Not all pools are created equal - some are deep, and some are shallow. In order to be consistent, if a diver performs a somersault save on each forward or inward dive, they can be sure that if any part of the body hits the bottom of the pool, it will always be their bottom instead of the arms or head.
Somersault Saves and the Rip Entry
Somersault saves can also aide in the execution of the important “rip entry.” In order for this to happen, the diver must use the forward roll with a technique called “swimming.”
Swimming is the movement of the divers’ arms during the forward roll, from over the head in a stretching position, towards the torso and hips, in a direction slightly in front of and to the side of the body.
As this occurs, the swimming technique helps to accelerate the body as it moves under the surface, essentially pulling water and air under the water with the diver. This can create the boiling effect, or the latent bubbles that occurs after the entry into the water.
The best way to master a somersault save, is to practice the technique, and when you think you have the technique down, keep practicing it.
Start from the side of the pool in the water, and push off the side and perform a forward roll under the water in open pike position, using the swimming technique and keeping the legs straight and toes pointed.
Once you feel comfortable with the forward roll, move to the pool deck and do a simple dive into the water, again, practicing the forward role in open pike position and the swimming technique.
From there, practice line-up drills from both the one- and three-meter springboards, concentrating on the timing of the save while varying the angle from which you enter the water.Remember, the somersault save is an important part of the dive both from a safety standpoint, as well as proper execution of the dive. And remember, saves just don’t happen; you have to practice, practice, practice!
Goals of a Forward Somersault Save
- Stop the Over-rotation of the Body During the Somersault
- Move the Body Under the Water Quickly
- Provide a Safety Measure in Shallow Pools
- Help in the Execution of a Rip Entry
Factors Affecting a Forward Somersault Save
- Rate of Spin
- Timing on the Somersault
- Angle of the Entry
- Distance from the Springboard or Platform