If you work hard and go to practice, there is usually a reason for it - a light at the end of the tunnel, or a final goal. Diving is no exception to that rule. The end result of all the practice and training is the ability to show what you have learned in a competition.
So what are the levels at which competitions are held for diving?
1. Lesson Programs & Summer Diving
Lesson programs and summer leagues are the backbone of the sport of diving. They introduce the sport and using proper instruction and supervision, introduce the sport to enthusiastic new divers. Lessons programs are offered by most USA Diving and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) clubs and you will be hard pressed not to find a summer league in an area that has season pools.
Summer leagues almost always offer a series of dual meets with a championship to finish off the season. Lesson programs often will host an exhibition to show what the diver has learned.
2. Novice, Developmental and Grassroots Diving
Once a diver has reached a particular level of expertise in lessons, they may be ready to compete in local or regional competitions in novice, or developmental competitions. These types of diving meets offer a chance for divers to show what they have learned in practice, in a competitive format.
The requirements for these diving meets may be as basic as performing front and back jumps, but provide an introduction to the competitive side of diving. Competitions usually center on the 1- and 3-meter springboard, but can also include dryland skills.
3. Junior Diving
As a diver advances, they may be ready to compete in what is known as “junior diving.” To compete at the junior level a diver must be able to perform a required number of dives as defined by FINA, the international governing body for aquatics. Once a diver can perform these dives, they will have the opportunity to compete in local and regional qualifying competitions, with the ultimate goal of advancing to a national championship.
Junior diving is contested in a series of age groups ranging from 9 and under to the 16-18 age groups, on 1-meter, 3-meter and platform. A recent addition to junior diving is synchronized competition.
Competitions are offered by both USA Diving and the AAU, and once a diver has advanced to this level, opportunities begin to present themselves for high school or college diving.