Why Olympic divers shower and use small towels between dives

Divers usually get out of the water after a dive and immediately take a quick shower at the edge of the pool – even though they are already wet. Then they dry themselves with small towels — even if they get wet again on the next dive.

“Why do divers shower after every dive?” has been one of the top Google searches about the Olympics in the past week.

So yes, why? As the platform diving events continue this week, we spoke to Jacob Brehmer, dive coach for Ball State University in Indiana, for some answers.

According to Brehmer, the answer comes down to one thing.

“Divers usually shower in between dives to keep themselves and their muscles warm,” he says. They usually rinse off in water that is warmer than the pool.

Indoor diving pools like the one at the Tokyo Aquatics Center must maintain water temperatures of at least 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to FINA, the governing body that sets rules for international water sports competitions.

“Usually, after making a dive, divers have to wait quite some time for their next dive,” says Brehmer. “The…air temperature on the pool deck can be a little cold, so the shower can help keep the muscles warm. Diving is such a precise and fast-paced sport, if the diver gets a little cold and tight, it can really affect on their performance.”

Why do they use small towels?

Keeping warm is also one of the reasons swimmers and divers use small towels called chamois — pronounced “shammy” — at major events.

The towels are portable and extremely water-absorbent, allowing divers to dry off quickly and stay warm, Brehmer says.

Staying dry also means safer – and more competitive – diving.

“As the divers fly through the air, they grab their legs and squeeze them really hard,” he says. “If their legs are wet, there’s a good chance…their hands will slide off their legs and they’ll come out of the dive early — which can result in injuries and almost always lower scores.”

China's Quan Hongchan competes in the women's 10m platform diving final at the Tokyo Olympics on August 5.

Why they tape their bodies

Olympic divers perform breathtaking acrobatics in deep pools at high speed, and keeping their muscles healthy is a critical part of their success.

Any stress in muscle movement can lead to drastic results. That’s another reason why some divers wear tape on their knees, back or shoulders.

It is similar to the tape worn by beach volleyball players, tennis players and other athletes.

“Basically, it just provides a little extra support and can relieve pain in muscles, joints, and ligaments,” says Brehmer.

In a highly competitive sport where the smallest edge can mean the difference between a medal and sixth place, many athletes leave nothing to chance.

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