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Diving at home has team in peak position

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | NOVEMBER 11, 2009 7:20 AM

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There might not be a sport more reliant on a “home-facility advantage” than diving.

Familiarity is king in the sport. Several nuances factor into the perfect dive, and nothing is more beneficial than being on the home plank.

Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze said diving is comparable to playing other sports at home.

“It’s a lot like playing golf on your own golf course,” he said. “You know where the holes are, how fast the greens are, where the angulations are. In basketball, you know the background, and it’s a lot easier to shoot baskets when you know the background. Diving is the same thing. Except it’s easier to dive at home where you know the diving boards and the surroundings.”

A background and a familiar setting is just as pertinent in diving.

When a diver is in a tuck, twist, or turn, he or she uses the background to know when to come out of form. A diver may rely upon the water or the lighting as a point of reference. One pool may have a light colored ceiling, while another may be dark.

In the Field House pool, there are many windows.

“When you come here, we have [windows] that are out in front of the divers,” Rydze said. “Which in the afternoon, or even in the evening, there’s a glare off the windows. Whether it’s from the sun or the artificial light we have in here, you’re going to get a little more glare off the water. If you are used to diving in a place that doesn’t have as much glare, it might be harder to see in here.”

Another interesting factor is the board used.

Rydze has been coaching the Iowa diving team for 35 years, and during that time, the NCAA has used Duraflex diving boards, which have become a staple in every major competitive swimming event worldwide, according to the brand’s website.

“Although all the diving boards are made by the same manufacturer, they’re not all the same,” Rydze said.

Some boards are slow, some are fast. Diving boards also experience plenty of wear and tear over the years.

Most older boards are no longer level. A board pointing downwards will throw a diver out farther. But if a board is pointing even slightly upward, it will keep a diver closer to the board.

“When you get to a pool that you haven’t been in, it’s hard to adjust to those factors,” Rydze said.

“When divers come in here, they always complain that the nearest low board is a little bit downhill and loose. And it probably is, probably by a fraction of a percentage. But still it’s within the limits.”

The NCAA requires each board to be replaced every five years. Duraflex boards bear the year of manufacture. The boards in the Field House were last replaced in 2006.

Each board can be adjusted using a fulcrum, a wheel on the board that allows for more or less spring.
Rydze said in the summertime, the pool can get hot, and the boards have tendency to go down farther. When it’s cold, the boards are quicker, and the fulcrum must be adjusted to slow the board down.

“[Divers] know by diving on it every day where that number is,” Rydze said. “They know how to adjust for it some days. So when you go into another place, you’re basically sometimes guessing where that number might be.”

Senior diver Frank Van Dijkhuizen won both diving events during the diving season opener at Wisconsin. He said when the team travels, his teammates don’t get much more than an hour to warm up.

“It’s easier for us to dive at home because we know the boards,” he said. “I’m not saying our pool is the greatest, but when you move to another pool, the boards aren’t as good as ours or different, it’ a lot of getting use to it.”


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