History of Diving

Although diving has been a popular pastime across the world since ancient times, the first modern diving competitions were held in England in the 1880s. The exact origins of the sport are unclear, though it likely derives from the act of diving at the start of swimming races. The 1904 book Swimming by Ralph Thomas notes English reports of plunging records dating back to at least 1865. The 1877 edition to British Rural Sports by John Henry Walsh makes note of a “Mr. Young” plunging 56 feet (17 m) in 1870, and also states that 25 years prior, a swimmer named Drake could cover 53 feet (16 m).

The English Amateur Swimming Association (at the time called the Swimming Association of Great Britain) first started a “plunging championship” in 1883. The Plunging Championship was discontinued in 1937.

Plain diving was first introduced into the Olympics at the 1904 event. The 1908 Olympics in London added ‘fancy diving’ and introduced elastic boards rather than fixed platforms. Women were first allowed to participate in the diving events for the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

In the 1928 Olympics, ‘plain’ and ‘fancy’ diving was amalgamated into one event – ‘Highboard Diving’. The diving event was first held indoors in the Empire Pool for the 1934 British Empire Games and 1948 Summer Olympics in London.