You’ve tried Chess boxing, Kabbadi, and cheese rolling. And now your pursuit for crazy sports has brought you to Death Diving. Now, you’re 10 m (33 ft) high, and about to do the most dangerous dive of your life.
As your body spins in the air, you realize this is going to hurt more than you thought. You’d better focus on your landing.
Death diving began in Norway in 1972 as a group of friends tried to impress some girls and have fun. But official world championships have been held since 2008. The sport consists of jumping off a 10 m (33 ft) platform.
The divers must have their arms and legs spread out like an X, and hold that pose until right before they hit the water in a pike position, facing the water. There’s also a freestyle category where competitors do flips or funny poses instead of the X position.
The jury at the side of the pool ranks them on style, timing, originality, and splash size. How much time do you have before hitting the water? Why does a belly flop hurt so much? How many people have died from diving?
The highest death dive ever recorded was in 2019, when Emil Lybekk death dived off a construction crane at the height of 29 m (89 ft) and landed in a belly flop. He did this to promote a water sports festival happening in Moss, Norway. The World High Diving Federation recommends that no one dive from 20 m (65.5 ft) or higher unless professional rescue scuba divers are stationed in the water.
In 2017, over 16 people died in cliff diving accidents in the U.S. Although death diving looks like it could be fun, one small mistake can lead to a world of hurt, broken bones, and internal bleeding. So we have some tips to help you manage the risks and live to tell the story.
Step 1. Don’t jump alone
Even if you think you’re death diving safely, you should have friends or people around who can help you, and call for help if something goes wrong. Besides, the main reason to do death diving is to please your fans and impress the juries, so jumping alone doesn’t make much sense.
Step 2. Check the water’s depth
Always make sure the pool is deep enough before you dive. A pool with a 10 m (33 ft) platform should be 5 m (16 ft) deep at the point directly under the edge of the diving board. When in doubt, always jump feet first. It’s better to hurt your feet than your head.
Step 3. Master the belly flop
Hitting the water at 70 km/h (45 mph) is no joke, so protect your inner organs. Try to lessen the blow by breaking the water with your fingers or feet. Keep your chin tucked, and protect your head to avoid injury to your neck and skull.
When a larger part of your body hits the water, like your stomach and chest, there is a greater resistance force from the liquid than if a small area, like your feet, hits it. That’s why belly flops are so painful.
Sometimes, belly flops can cause deep abdominal injuries, called blunt abdominal trauma. This is similar to being hit on the belly really hard. This can damage organs, including the liver, kidney, pancreas, and bowels. And after the high-velocity impact, you’ll suddenly decelerate. Both of these can cause trauma to your organs.
Step 4: Recognize an Injury
When you’re death diving, you can feel, and others can see a bad landing that injures you. This would include landing with your whole belly exposed, headfirst, on your neck, or even smack on your chest. If it’s bad, stop competing right away. After the competition, if you feel hurt, try to get some rest. If the pain persists, or if you see blood in your urine or stool, you should see a doctor right away.
Step 5. Don’t get cocky
Competitors have described the jumping as feeling no gravity for a second. This can be thrilling, but don’t get carried away. You usually have one and a half seconds before touching the water, so make your acrobatics short and focus on your landing. Don’t do something risky just for applause. In 2016, Anthony Booth Armer’s cliff diving videos went viral on the internet.
He did things like jumping 40 m (129 ft) from the roof of a condo building into a harbor below it. Many of his videos show him jumping wrong incorrectly, cannonballing into the water from great heights without checking his surroundings or the water’s depth. Then, the police arrested him because his stunts were illegal and dangerous.
On December 28, 2016, he jumped off a ledge into the pool at a hotel in California. He missed the pool by a few feet and hit the edge of the pool feetfirst. He survived, but in May 2017, he admitted being unable to walk and climb stairs.
Death diving sounds serious, but it’s all about having fun with friends and entertaining the public. Like any sport it carries some risks, but as long as you take the risks seriously and follow the rules, you can have a great time. You survived a 10 m (33 ft) death dive, but what if you fell from five times that height?
- “Norway’s Death Diving is one of the most intense sports you’ll ever see”. 2017. BARDOWN.
- “VM i Døds – World Championship in death diving 2017 LIVE”. 2021. youtube.com.
- “‘Death diving’ is the sport you didn’t know you needed in your life”. 2018. The West Australian.
- “‘Dods’ or alive: defying gravity in Norway’s ‘death diving'”. bangkokpost.com.
- “Surviving the Impact of Cliff Diving”. 2021. youtube.com.
- “Belly-flops can cause injuries”. Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia, Special to CNN. 2021. CNN.
- “How to survive a bellyflop from a height”. 2021. news.bbc.co.uk.