In all diving contests, whether it is a high school swimming and diving meet or the Olympic Games, divers are required to perform a specified number of dives from which a winner is determined.
These requirements are set in place to show that a diver has mastered a set of skills needed to succeed in the sport at the level of difficulty in which they choose to compete. At the heart of these requirements are two categories of dives – voluntary dives and optional dives. The use of these dives in competition make up what is known as a diver's list; and how many of each of these types are used depends on the the particular level of the competition (age group, high school, international, etc.) and the age of the competitor.
Voluntary dives are generally the easier, or compulsory dives. The voluntary dives that are included in a diver’s list are limited by their total degree of difficulty; a measure of how difficult a dive is to complete.
These dives are important for younger divers and are stressed in diving list requirements for junior divers because they aid in the development of proper diving technique and confidence.
In diving contests optional dives are much more difficult, involve multiple somersaults and twists, and have a much higher degree of difficulty than “voluntaries.” No matter how many optional dives are required for a diver's list, there is no limit on the total degree of difficulty.
If performed effectively for high scores, optional dives can be the deciding factor in determining the outcome of a diving contest. This is especially true when the diver competes in collegiate, senior level, or international contests.
How Many Make a List?
A diver's list may consist of as few as six dives or as many as 11, and any dive can be used as a voluntary or optional dive as long as the prescribed limits for degree of difficulty are followed. College dual meets require a diver to perform six dives, divers competing in USA Diving or AAU contests on springboard in the 12-13 age-group compete seven, while high school championship contests require 11 dives. So make sure you understand the requirements for the diving meet at which you are entered.
A true test of an athlete's mastery of the sport comes from being a well-rounded diver; one that can perform the easier voluntary dives as well as the harder optional dives with equal skill.