If you have ever participated in, judged in, or been a spectator at a high-level diving competition, you may have noticed a whistle or beep before each dive.
And you may have wondered, "Who and what is making all that racket, and isn't a whistle a bit out of place at a diving meet?"
First, the diving referee is responsible for the whistle, and second, it is the only time a whistle should be heard during a contest.
This signal is an integral part of many competitions, and is used at senior level national championships, world level qualifying events, world championships, the Olympic Games, and other diving meets governed by FINA rules.
According to FINA rules:
The dive shall be executed after a signal given by the Referee. The signal shall not be given before the diver has assumed his position on the board or platform … For backward and inward take-offs, the diver shall not proceed to the end of the springboard or platform until after the signal has been given by the Referee.
What this means is that once the referee uses a particular signal, usually an electronic whistle, the diver has officially been given notice that it is his or her turn to execute their next dive. Additionally, this also serves as a notice to the judges that it is time to pay attention!
Now of course, judges always pay strict attention to the contest, but in the "remote" chance that they may be daydreaming, this is - in a manner of speaking, a wake up call.
Before The Signal
So what happens if the diver does their dive before the signal?
If this happens, then it is up to the referee to decide whether the diver should repeat the dive.
Despite the fact that the pool should be a quiet place during a meet, many times there are other activities taking place (swimming workouts, aqua aerobics, etc.) that raise the noise level. With that extra noise, coupled with the fact that the acoustics in a pool are not always that great, the whistle may not be heard. This is where the referee's discretion comes into play.
After the Signal
On the other hand, if the diver does not complete the dive within, what can described as a reasonable amount of time after the signal, the referee can give a one-minute warning.
If the dive is not executed within that minute, bad things happen. A fail dive.
So the next time you are at a meet, listen for the whistle and if you are daydreaming, it can be your wake up call!