Platform Diving Origin
The platform diving origin can be hard to pinpoint. But platform diving has been around a lot longer than some people might think. In fact, the most famous proof that people have long enjoyed diving gracefully into a body of water from a great height dates back to about 480 BC.
Back in 1968, Italian archeologist Mario Napoli found the Tomb of the Diver (also known as the Tombia Del Tuffatore) during his excavation of a small, Greek necropolis. Five slabs formed the monument, and on each slab was painted a picture. And the most famous of these paintings shows a man diving into a stream of water from some kind of structure. An ancient platform, perhaps?
Of course, while the Tomb of the Diver itself dates back to the 5th century BCE, folks were probably enjoying diving as a pastime long before that.
For the origin of platform diving as the modern sport we know today, one has to look to Germany and Sweden. As early as the 17th century, “fancy diving” (known as such for the fancy acrobatics involved) was becoming a popular pastime for the athletically inclined in those two countries. In 1840, the very first diving association was created, and it should be no surprise that many of the association’s early members were gymnasts, who were taking their tumbling skills from the mat and into (or, more accurately, above) the water. By 1882, the first international diving contests were being held at Germany’s Neptun swimming club.
Men’s platform diving was the first form of diving to become an official Olympic sport. It was introduced in 1904, at the Summer Olympic Games in St. Louis, Missouri. And, while the first man to win the platform diving gold medal was the USA’s George Sheldon, Germany’s Georg Hoffmann and Alfred Braunshweiger took the silver and bronze.
Women’s platform diving was finally introduced at the 1912 Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. And the first woman to claim the gold for platform diving was Sweden’s own Greta Johansson.
In 2000, synchronized platform diving was introduced at the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In this event, two competitors dive from a platform and either perform identical dives or mirrored dives. (Basically, the same dive going in different directions, so they look like mirror images of each other.) Some might consider this the most challenging of the platform diving events. Not only must an individual competitor execute a perfect dive, they must also do the exact same thing as their partner.
The popularity of platform diving in modern times is hard to dispute. And it’s amazing to realize that it all started thousands of years ago.