Now that the 2012 Olympic Games are underway in London, England it's quite likely that most of us are guilty of watching a little more TV than we normally would. Among my favorite sports to watch are swimming, gymnastics and diving. Being a former dancer I suppose that the quality of the movement is what appeals to me the most about those latter; however, in a sport like diving there is so much more to think about than merely being graceful and strong. In order to complete a number of twists and somersaults in the air, athletes must have a clear understanding of rotational force, torque, and of course gravity! In springboard diving you've got the added element of the upward force from the board - and don't forget a little outward velocity to make sure you don't smack yourself on the board on your way down.
That's a lot of physics!
The team at USC Dornsife have produced a short video about the biomechanics and physics of diving. It's a great primer for gaining a greater appreciation of the many elements of science that go into just a few short seconds of an athlete's career. Well worth a watch!