Diving has undergone numerous changes over the years, and learning about platform diving history might be helpful for diving enthusiasts, students and professionals. A historical account will in fact benefit anyone who enjoys the sport to learn about the people who made this activity such an exciting endeavor.
Historical document shows that platform diving was a pastime around 480 B.C., since a roof slab in Naples showed pictures of a young man platform diving during that time frame. Unfortunately, there is no other historical data that covers platform diving until the 1800s. Thus, it is difficult to find an accurate background of the sport.
Although ancient time provides insufficient data regarding platform diving, there is documentation to show that England had its first diving competition in 1880, and the sport was practiced by Sweden and Germany around the eighteenth century. The Germans held their platform diving off a bridge located in the River Saale. While Sweden performed platform diving also in the eighteenth century, they used wood scaffolding at lakes and incorporated somersaults into the diving. The German gymnastics team adopted platform diving as part of their tumbling routine and created the first diving association in the eighteenth century as well.
Around the twentieth century, platform diving became popular at shows performed in Great Britain by Swedish divers. This later led to the creation of the Amateur Diving Association. Dr. G.E. Sheldon an American diver became the first platform diving Olympic champion in 1904 in St. Louis.
In 1908, the Olympic Games started using fourteen diving tables and the first men diving springboard competition came into being. With additional platform diving training, the sport implemented other programs. Programs added include German spring boarding as well as Swedish highboard to the binding rules of the Olympic committee and splash less water contact.
The Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) came into being in 1928 and assumed the responsibility of publishing new tables as well as platform diving groups. This organization is still the governing association today.
In an effort to mimic the platform diving activities of Sweden, sport enthusiasts in the United States started using bridges to perform daring leaps. These daring activities cause numerous accidents, and diving activities ceased. However, platform diving became prevalent again with the assistance of the Germans in 1940.
The platform diving field over the years showed other improvement due to technology, which includes the Laminated Bransten board replacement to an aluminum board in the 1960 Olympic Games and later the development of the Dura flex Board. The last change to this pastime was in Sydney, Australia when synchronized diving became part of the 2000 games.