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A form of aerial gymnastics in which an individual or pairs plunge into water either directly, or after performing some bodily manoeuvres while in the air. Diving has been an element of physical recreation or informal performance in any culture in which water-based recreation was established. But in its modern form it emerged from German and Swedish gymnastics, and has featured in the Summer Olympics programme from London 1908. The USA was for most of the 20th century the dominant nation in both men's and women's events across the four subdisciplines of springboard and platform (individual and synchronized), challenged at some Games by Soviet/East European nations, also Sweden and Australia, but increasingly—to the point of eclipse—by China. At the Beijing 2008 Games, Chinese divers won all four women's gold medals, and three out of four men's. Diving has also, like swimming and weightlifting, been a route into showbusiness; 1928 Amsterdam double Olympic (springboard and platform) champion, Canadian-born Ulise Joseph ‘Pete’ Desjardins (1907–85), 5-foot-3-inch Stanford graduate, turned professional and performed billed as ‘The Little Bronze Statue from the Land of Real Estate, Grapefruits and Alligators’.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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