On Thursday, the NCAA announced 5 new rules changes, 4 of which will have major, sweeping impact across the competitive landscape. We will break-down each of those changes further in separate articles.
Synchronized Diving: A new NCAA option
Text from the NCAA announcement:
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Wednesday approved synchronized diving to be an optional event in non-championship and invitational meets starting in the 2015-16 academic year.
If the teams in a dual-, tri- or quad-meet agree to have a synchronized diving event, it can replace either the 1-meter or 3-meter diving events — or both. In invitational meets, synchronized swimming can replace any springboard or platform diving event.
The use of synchronized diving must be mutually agreed to by all the coaches involved in the meet or invitational.
A synchronized diving competition will consist of five dives from each same-gendered pair, and a minimum of three diving judges must be used.
Synchronized diving is a discipline on the rise at the college level. It was only the year 2000 when the event made its first appearance in the Olympics, and it was later added to the NCAA as an exhibition event.
But in 2015, synchronized diving will get its first chance to score real NCAA points after getting a boost in the NCAA’s sweeping list of rule changes announced today.
Teams are now allowed to swap out one of the point-scoring diving events for a synchro event at dual meets, triangulars, quad meets and invites.
In practice, the new rule will work somewhat like the NCAA already does for relay and IM lengths in dual meets. Currently, opposing coaches in a dual meet can agree to swim the 400 IM instead of the 200 IM in the college meet order, or swap out relay distances (the 400 medley relay for the usual 200 and the 200 free relay for the usual 400).
If all the coaches involved in a dual (or tri- or quad-) meet agree, they can swap in a synchronized diving event for either 1-meter or 3-meter springboard. And in invitationals, synchro can be subbed in for either springboard or the platform event.
The move continues to add legitimacy to the discipline of synchronized diving, which now could be in line for more additions at the college level down the road. One speculated option was to add synchro diving as a “relay” event, counting for double points, in addition to the other three events. That would also likely change NCAA roster rules, which count divers as one-half a roster spot due to their ineligibility to swim relays.
That’s still probably a ways off from even being officially discussed, though, and will likely depend on how often coaches choose to substitute the event into a meet lineup.
The other big impact this development could have is on recruiting, with synchro partners perhaps more likely to dive for the same school. That could have unique impacts on scholarship dollars, too. With only 9.9 men’s scholarships and 14 women’s scholarships available to split between both swimmers and divers, it’s probably going to be difficult for any major school to pony up two large scholarships for a synchro diving pair, at least not without cutting into their swimming dollars.
On the other hand, both divers might settle for less in order to train with their synchro partner, or we may see more schools shifting scholarships over to diving to be able to rule the synchro event.
All three American medal-winning synchronized diving teams at the 2012 Olympics were separated by college. Kelci Bryant competed for the Minnesota Gophers, while partner Abigail Johnston was a Duke Blue Devil. That duo took silver on the 3-meter springboard. On the men’s side, 3-meter bronze medalists Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen were NCAA competitors for Texas and Stanford, respectively. And platform bronze medalists David Boudia (Purdue) and Nick McCrory (Duke) were also college rivals.