Judging is not an exact science, and the first round - and the first round of optional dives, of a high school diving contest offers a chance for the judges to get a feel for the level of competition.
What does this mean? It means that you will generally neither see extremely high, or low scores in these rounds. Judge(s) may be hesitant about throwing out an 8, or a 2 until the entire first round has been completed.
This point becomes more apparent in many states where the judges are swimming officials first, and diving judges second.
Judging tends to be relative to the level of talent in all types of competitions, not just high school. A dive that receives an 8.5 at a dual meet will probably not receive that same score at the state championships. The tougher the competition, the tougher the judging.
Additionally, in many high school contests the competitors may range from beginner to elite. This wide range can make judging more difficult and at times inconsistent.
The point here is that a diver may need to adjust the order of their dives, and their approach to the competition with this in mind, in order to put him or herself in the position to accomplish their goals for that meet, whether it is to qualify for finals or win the contest.
Now back to my original point concerning the first round of a contest, or the first optional round.
A high school diver needs to pay special attention to that first dive. If you have a lights out dive, on which you know you can score 8’s, you might not use it as your first optional, as the judges might not be inclined to give it the 8 or 8.5 it deserves.
On the other hand, if you know the judges, and they know you, it might be the smart play. As a diver, there is much more to doing well in a contest than going through a list of dives.
So remember, pay attention to the nature of the contest and the judges because ultimately, those three, five, or seven judges have a lot to do with the final outcome!