After a four-year hiatus, the thrill of the World Aquatics High Diving World Cup is back! This Friday and Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, athletes from 20 countries will leap, flip, and twist from sky-scraping 27m and 20m towers to earn prize money, prestige, and a berth at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, this July.
Whether you’re new to high diving or need a refresher on how the event works, here is a useful crib sheet to explain the competition format, the differences between the four rounds of diving, the basics of scoring, key athletes, and a little trivia at the end.
How It Works
Men dive from the 27-meter tower. Women dive from 20 meters.
Each athlete executes four dives - two on Friday, and two on Saturday.
The winner is the athlete with the highest cumulative score.
Prize money is allotted to the top-12 men and top-12 women, including $8,000 USD to the winner.
The event is also a direct qualifier for the World Aquatics Championships - Fukuoka 2023 where high diving will be contested from July 25-27. The top-24 men and top-24 women in Fort Lauderdale earn the right to compete at worlds – but only three men and three women per nation are allowed to make the cut.
The Four Dives
On Friday, each athlete performs two dives. The first one may not exceed a 2.6 degree of difficulty for women and 2.8 for men. The second dive will have unlimited difficulty.
On Saturday, athletes’ third dive also has a cap on difficulty, but this time the maximum DD will be 3.4 for women and 3.6 for men. The fourth dive can be anything – but the athletes will start the final round in reverse order of the standings after three dives. This guarantees a climactic finish because the leader dives last.
Five judges score each dive. The highest and lowest scores per dive are discarded. The remaining three scores are added and multiplied by the degree of difficulty to determine a dive’s score.
Five Big Names
On the women’s side, watch Rhiannan IFFLAND, 31, of Australia, a two-time world champion and winner of the last two World Cups (2018 and 2019). Molly CARLSON, 24, of Canada is another major player. Carlson founded #bravegang, a safe space where people share personal stories of bravery. The site is wildly popular, and Carlson herself currently has more than 3.7 million TikTok followers and 141.7 million likes.
Perhaps the most famous male diver, Gary HUNT, 38, will be representing France at a World Cup for the first time. Hunt won the last four World Cup titles and two world championship crowns (in 2015 and 2019) for his native Great Britain. Since high diving isn’t an Olympic discipline, he switched nationalities and hopes to represent the host nation on the 10m platform at the Paris 2024 Olympics. It is a major adjustment, as Olympic divers land head-first and high divers enter the water feet first.
Others likely most likely to succeed in Florida include Aidan HESLOP of Great Britain, a proven winner whom experts say is the future of the sport. At 16, he was the youngest diver ever to compete in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. He turned 21 in April.
See also Constantin POPOVICI, 34, of Romania, the 2022 European champion at 27m who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics on the 10m platform as a teenager. Popovici also made the podium at the 2018 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (silver) and the 2019 World Cup in China (bronze).
Finally, Four Cool Facts
The Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center is reportedly the only facility in the western hemisphere with both a 20m and a 27m high-diving tower.
Before 2023, only four nations had ever hosted the World Aquatics High Diving World Cup: Russia, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, and China.
Fort Lauderdale 2023 marks just the seventh high diving World Cup. Historically, there have only been two men’s World Cup champions (two-time winner Orlando DUQUE of Colombia and four-time champion Gary HUNT) and four women’s World Cup champions (Rachelle SIMPSON of the US twice, Lysanne RICHARD of Canada, Adriana JIMINEZ of Mexico, and Rhiannan IFFLAND twice).
This summer, Fukuoka 2023 will mark just the fifth time high diving has been contested at the World Championships, dating back to 2013. The inaugural FINA men’s world champion, Orlando DUQUE, now serves as the chairman of World Aquatics’ high diving technical committee and is expected to be in Fort Lauderdale to oversee Friday and Saturday’s event.
All the excitement will be livestreamed here, starting Friday at 12:00 Eastern for with the women’s first two dives, followed by the men at 14:25. Saturday’s start times are 12:00 (women), 14:35 (men), followed by the medal presentation at 16:30 Eastern.