Diving is a well-known sport for the Olympics, and for good reason. It's thrilling to see what these athlete can do. Competing in something as rigorous as the Olympics comes with a lot of training and planning — but there are also certain mechanisms that fans may not realize are important.
One of those things is having water spray into the Olympic diving pools. Looking at it from a viewer's perspective, it doesn't seem to make much sense to spray water into more water. But it actually has a pretty necessary function.
Why does water spray into the diving pool at the Olympics?
It turns out that the spray of water is a safety measure. It's meant to agitate the surface of the pool, in order to aid the divers in their visual perception of the pool's surface in relation to their dive. As Sporting News notes, this helps divers determine when to enter their rotations as they dive.
Because of the safety component, the spray is a requirement at not only the Olympics but at all international diving competitions, thanks to rules set in place by The Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA). The FINA regulates all aspects of international aquatic events. It sets rules and standards so that everyone around the world can be properly trained for events, and it works to make sure water-based sports are available to people of all ages, genders, and races.
According to guidelines FINA sets, if not a "horizontal water sprinkler system" like the one being used in the Tokyo Olympics, then an underwater bubble machine can also be used if it creates sufficient agitation. But what devices can be used depends on what other devices are present in the water or installed into the pools. There are also regulations for other aspects like the depth of the pool and the lighting used.
As The Scotsman notes, if divers are unable to tell where the surface is, they are more likely to hit the bottom of the pool at a high velocity and hurt themselves. The bubbles of the pool also cushion the dive.
Water sports may seem harmless, but hitting water roughly can be very dangerous, even for someone who is properly trained. Especially when you dive from a large distance, you face a greater risk of hurting yourself.