IMPORTANT CHANGES for the 2015 USA Diving Calendar

(Note: This material was originally published in February, 2014. Additional changes were adopted in the fall of 2014 at the annual meeting. For a more current summary, please click here.)

As many of you know, a new competitive calendar structure that will begin in 2015 passed nearly unanimously at the 2013 annual meeting.

There’s been some fine tuning of the exact details over the past few months, and we’re ready to let you know what these changes mean for you. We hope you’ll agree they are for the better of the sport.

Let’s start with the spring. Beginning next year, the Junior Spring Region Championships and the East and West Junior National Championships will be replaced by the USA Diving Synchronized National Championships. This new event will promote and encourage participation in synchronized diving from a young age; competition will include open competition as well as competition in 13-and-under and 14-18 age groups. No qualification meet will be required, so you can plan more effectively while eliminating the expense and travel time of going to a region meet. If you meet the degree of difficulty requirements, you’re qualified to go to nationals for the opportunity to become a national champion – and possibly represent the U.S. internationally, as the nationals will be used for team selections to major meets. Junior and senior divers will be competing at the same meet, so younger divers will benefit from the experience of diving alongside Olympians and other elite divers.

We’ll have more information about the synchronized national championships as it gets closer, but we encourage you to start thinking about a partner or partners if you haven’t yet tried synchronized diving. Synchronized diving is proven to aid in long-term athlete development in both skills and technique, and it’s also shown to benefit your competitive ability with a shift in mental focus (you don’t want to let your partner down). Why not give it a try?

After the synchronized nationals, we’ll begin the process of qualifying for the summer championships.

With our membership continuing to grow, we’ve restructured the competitive program to allow for greater participation. We’ve expanded to 12 regions and six zones, up from 10 and five (please see the NEW Regional Alignment and Zone Alignment maps). We’re hopeful that adding these new regions and zones also will decrease costs and travel time by providing meets that are relatively more local for participants.

Junior divers will begin their qualification process at one of 12 region championships in late April. We realize this is much earlier than the current system with summer region meets in June, but this shift will allow for more time to plan and prepare for the next level of competition rather than having to turn around and head straight to the next meet with almost no time in between.

From the region meets, the top 15 junior divers in each springboard event in each age group (platform is encouraged at region meets but is not a required qualifying event) plus any diver who meets the zone qualifying score will move on to the zone national preliminaries, where they’ll be joined by senior divers. In an effort to reduce travel time and costs, the junior and senior events will be held at the same meet, which will take place in June. Junior divers trying to qualify in senior events will no longer have to go to two separate meets.

The top 12 finishers in each junior event (1-3 will advance directly to the semifinals, while places 4-12 will dive in the quarterfinals) at each of the six national preliminary meets will advance to the championships, as will the top five finishers in each senior event. The championships, to be held July 28-August 13, will be a combined meet with both junior and senior events taking place throughout the competition.

We’ll also continue to have the USA Diving Winter National Championships, with that meet remaining a senior-level event.

Stay tuned for more information as we continue to prepare for these exciting changes next year, and good luck during the 2014 season.

Table summarizing 2015 summer competitive structure changes – (New) reflects changes adopted at 2014 annual meeting

USA Diving Regions and Zones beginning with the 2015 season

32 thoughts on “IMPORTANT CHANGES for the 2015 USA Diving Calendar

  1. Most southern California schools do not get out until mid June. I hope you will take that into account when scheduling zones. Otherwise many kids may not be able to make it.

  2. What about qualifying for the 2016 Olympic trials? Do the top 3 finishers from 3m and platform at the Junior National Championships still still get to go to the Olympic trials the following Summer?

    1. The qualifying procedures for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials are not yet set. We are working with the U.S. Olympic Committee on these, and we will post the procedures as soon as they are available.

  3. Most schools in the east do not get out until mid to late June. In fact the dates for zones will be when most of our kids will be taking finals. It will be impossible for us to attend the zone meet therefore we will be excluded from participation in the zones and nationals. Zones must be run in July when everyone is out of school. I realize some divers go back to school before the end of nationals, but missing the first few days of school is a lot easier to manage than missing finals.

    Also, if you crunch the numbers it would seem next to impossible to run nationals according to this system which includes junior and senior divers at the same meet. There would be virtually no warmup time and I’m not sure there would even be time to run the events themselves. If the intention is to run 4 or 5 events at once where will you run this meet and who will judge it?

    1. We appreciate your feedback. We understand your concerns, and we have been looking at this new competitive structure in all directions as we work through the changes. We realize there will be some benefits but also some challenges. This is what the membership passed at the annual meeting, and we are working hard to understand all the implications and implement this in a way that will serve our members as best as possible.

      1. Please consider what this change actually means to an athlete and the coaches. A 16-18 boy who placed 4th in all three events at zones must compete a total of 24 hours should he make it to the finals at nationals. That does not count practice, warmups prior to events and any additional diving should that same diver be qualified for any senior events. It would seem that such a schedule will result in poor quality diving certainly by those competing in quarterfinals.

        This will also be an exhausting undertaking for the coaches who will also be required to judge these quarterfinal events in addition to the semifinals (the size of our current prelims) and finals. With this schedule it will be necessary to compete triple (maybe more) events at once during prelims. Just to run three events at the same time it will require 42 judges. Seventeen days of competition is an incredible challenge for everyone involved including table workers, judges and all meet staff.

  4. I am so sorry to see that the “membership” has decided to adopt a plan that will place Zone meets at the most critical time for Junior Divers to be in School preparing or perhaps taking final exams. Is it the intention of the “membership” to just have -athletes as opposed to Student Athletes? Lest the “membership” forget, all the members are the Student athletes who pay their dues and the salaries for all the coaches. It seems to be a plan that is either not well thought out, or, it may be very well thought out, by the “membership”. It will exclude a portion of the members from participating, because they will have to choose between academics and athletics. The “membership” has time to make this right, for the benefit of the Members.

  5. Yes, please take comments about zone timing seriously. Many schools finish the end of the 2nd week of June. Zones need to be after Finals. Finals are mandatory and schools as well as teachers are not required to be flexible or give finals early.

  6. I feel that the new Regional and Zone alignments will be a huge benefit to both the divers and USA diving. Competition at the National Championship meets will be stronger because of it. I’m not so sure though about synchronized diving benefiting anyone but larger teams. I’d love to hear how a small team is going to benefit from this change.

    1. Synchronized diving is becoming an increasingly important part of our sport, and the synchronized national championship event is a chance to introduce this aspect to divers at a younger age. Divers don’t have to be from the same club to be synchro partners, and we encourage divers and coaches to look outside their clubs for potential partners. Olympic bronze medalist Kristian Ipsen is a great example of someone who came from a small club and benefited from doing synchro. In fact, be on the lookout for the next issue of Inside USA Diving magazine in just a few weeks. There’s a great article by Kristian on how synchro has helped him.

  7. Most Virginia schools end June 25 or later depending on snow. This year it is June 28 for some districts. Allowing for travel time, zones have to be June 30 or later. I guess the new calendar is targeted at home schooled athletes and 1/2 day schoolers, who already are “in school” only 4 hours a day and at the pool the rest of the time. Why don’t you have elite category and competitive non elite like gymnastics does, then you can schedule the elite meet whenever you want and the rest of the kids who have to be at school before pool can compete later in the summer?

  8. One follow up: is the intent to drive junior divers who are not “serious” (ie, leave school at half day to dive 6 hours) into AAU? Because that is going to happen as people who take their children’s education seriously react to this change.

  9. Oops, here’s another consideration – AP (Advanced placement) exams are the first two weeks of May – every year. Most juniors take 2-4 AP classes; seniors take 2-3, and in Northern Virginia, most sophomores have 1-2 APs. There are no makeups. So, it is really starting to look like the new schedule is designed for the elite divers who don’t go to “regular” school and don’t take AP exams. Why don’t you just go ahead and declare an “elite” class like USA Gymnastics does so the distinction is clear? If not, then look at the calendar for the kids who actually go to school and take a full load of high level academic courses.

    1. Virginia, we appreciate your feedback. We realize there are some challenges to the proposal that was adopted by the General Assembly at convention in the fall. Please know we are taking all feedback into consideration as we work through these changes.

  10. Should not the issue of school finals/Regents been taken into account before passing this in terms of the timing? There are many areas of the country that go into June. Those divers won’t be able to attend. Not every serious diver is home schooled! That will effect a large number of athletes which effects everyone concerned. It impacts the true outcome if everyone cannot be there who qualified which kind of defeats the purpose of a National competition. That on top of the logistics mentioned previously needs a more in depth look in order for the membership to have a better comfort zone with the change and a positive experience.

  11. THe concern that I have is about the schools on the West Coast – many of these schools get out in May and start back within the first few days of August – in our case, JO Nationals will cause our diver to always miss the first week of school – so it’s hard to have a perfect schedule for these nationals that does not cause some inconvenience for some….

  12. In addition to the questions raised regarding school, and potential exhaustion for divers and meet workers (see Fred above) has anyone looked into the cost for parents with this new schedule? Many people will be flying into nationals. How do parents determine on what days should they book both airfare and hotel? We have no idea when our diver’s will be finished diving. Is USA diving going to find enough hotels that are willing to cancel massive reservations for divers that don’t advance to the next round(s)? What costs will be incurred by parents who then need to change hotel and air reservations? How long will a hotel reservation now be stretched out for each age group with all the senior diving in between?

    As to practice time and warm ups before events, there already isn’t enough time for divers and now there are even more people fighting to get dives in. The one nice thing about seniors was not having to fight to get on a board to get your practice in. Now time will again be shared by 11&U, 12-13, etc. age groups?

    If you take school, hotel and air logistics, dive practice time, diver exhaustion, meet worker fatigue and money out of the equation it’s a nice idea for ???? Maybe a positive long term for divers for going to an NCAA or Olympic trials format??

    There are better ways. Expand the Age Group meet to the old JR National format, to occur the end of July and keep those numbers at 36/event (6/zone) over a 5-6 day format. Parents/divers can also choose this option and still compete at a nationals if it best fits their diver’s school schedule.

    Start the elite participation at 12-13 and up. Take the top 18 in the country from a Jr. pre-qual zone meet and combine those athletes with the Senior meet to get the top group under the new nat’l format. Must have min DD for each age group in order to participate in this zone meet and nationals. Take top 3 from each zone + defined elite divers – limit total divers to 24/age group. Meets can be at same or different venues. Only coaches may have to move locations. This is just one idea – I’m sure there are many great ideas from coaches, divers and parents. Ask.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Margaret. As we’ve mentioned to the others above, we realize there are some challenges and concerns with this new structure. We have had and will continue to have meetings to address these challenges as we work through the changes. Please know we are looking at all areas from many directions and you can be assured everyone’s feedback is being taken into consideration.

  13. I am also very concern of the possible days of the region competition. For the school district that we are in (Cupertino and Sunnyvale School District of CA) missing last day of school means you lose your spot for the following year. So we absolutely cannot miss the last day of school which is usually the 2nd week of June. The high schools also have their finals during the first or 2nd week of June. Competitions for a non school event is not considered an excused absence and the teachers don’t need to give you a make up! Plus not to mention the previous noted graduation and such around the same time… I don’t want to have to make a choice between taking my daughter to regions or going to my son’s high school graduation!

  14. I would like to add one thing to the issues Margaret has mentioned. Does Anyone have a proposed event schedule for the 2015 zone and National Diving meets? It would seem that the “membership” would have needed this in order to vote on this new program. Regardless, we need one now. I can’t register my divers, my club or myself for USA Diving until I know we will be able to participate in the meets.

  15. Fred, you make a good point. Either the membership that voted did not appreciate the ramifications of these changes or were not given sufficient information regarding the logistical problems with the new format. While it is not clear, one can only assume that there will be no synchro events at the Nationals in the summer which will allow for the senior events.
    Still, in looking at the issues related to travel I do not see how this will save any money for most advanced divers. Given that there are 2 central national competitions and presumably longer hotel stays for national synchro, zones, and nationals this should cost most family’s more.
    I think the only solution at this point is to retain the existing calendar but make the spring regionals and spring East and West Nationals synchro events only. The summer region and zone competition should stay the same place on the calendar as now. The senior and junior events can be combined for summer zones and nationals, but it will take enormous effort to make the schedules reasonable for most divers.

  16. Schools in Washington, DC and suburban Maryland get out of school on June 18, 2015. Both of the proposed Zone National Prelims would be the last 2 weeks of school for the divers in our area.

  17. I hope more of the diving membership will attend the USA diving convention this year. It’s always difficult to have changes made and not hear the discussion and reasoning behind the adjustments. It would be great to see the rooms at convention filled like they used to be.

    i think the school schedules are an issue for most everyone. Perhaps the jr portion of zones could be held primarily on the weekend and the sr portion right after?

  18. How could you schedule zones with so many students, literally hundreds of divers, taking final exams that week? If your objective is to drive out all but the “serious” 16-18 year old divers who are going to be offered Division 1 scholarships, then you have achieved your goal. Congrats, or something.

  19. Wow, I just realized that I now have additional expense due to the structure change. Where I used to have 3-4 days in a hotel for the larger events (Regionals, Zones, Nationals), I now have 7-8 and sometimes more! Is it possible to make sure the Junior events, for those divers not competing in “Open” or “Seniors” can be grouped together? I know it might be great to see other divers, but it’s a huge hit on the pocketbook and my allowed vacation time away from work. I have to believe there are far more Junior only divers than there are Junior divers who are also competing at Open and Senior level.

    1. Laura, the schedules for Zones and Nationals have been posted. Nationals is grouped with junior preliminaries the first few days, followed by junior semifinals and finals, and then the open events. The meet directors set the schedules for their zone meets, so those schedules vary by meet. Please check the calendar page to see the schedule for the zone you are planning to attend. Also, remember that there is only one set of regionals now, so you will save money by not having to attend two sets of region meets.

  20. The assumption you are making is that divers attend Spring Regionals and Nationals. Many do not. I plotted out the competition for my child and she has down days where we will be in Orlando with no diving activity — except 30-45 minutes of warm-ups. That means I am taking more time off work to sit in a hotel to wait for her next competition…1-2, sometimes 3 days later. At Zones, we are sitting for two days — it’s too far to drive back home, so we shall sit. I noticed other parents made these comments in February 2014. The other consideration is airfares…I am fortunate that I can drive to the meets this year but if Nationals was held in Minnesota, for example, and my daughter didn’t make it to semi-finals, I would have made airline reservations that need to be changed so I could get back to work and not burn so much vacation time. Airfare change fees to leave early can be quite costly. Not changing them and sitting in hotel rooms is a waste of time and money, too. I really believe scheduling needs to be re-evaluated. I get that this helps Open and Senior divers…but how many divers are NOT in that position? Statistics would be beneficial…what do we have…1%-2% of Junior divers doing Open and Seniors vs the entire Junior diver population? Do them at the same time to help those families save money, I understand that, but PLEASE schedule these meets to accommodate the financial and vacation schedules of Junior only parents. Many parents work full-time jobs. This will be an expensive year — both in terms of cost and in opportunity cost of time. If the General Assembly passed this new structure, at least there should be standards around scheduling the events so WE can elect to either stay to watch the Open competitions at the end of the Junior competitions or head home once our divers have finished competition.

  21. Please bring back Spring Regionals/Nationals and Summer Age Group Nationals.
    All the changes you made do not benefits most of the divers.

  22. I do agree that having Spring Regionals and Spring Nationals and also Age Group Nationals would benefit more divers and make it easier to attend Summer Nationals for a few days instead of week or more. I really hope that more people will raise concern about new changes and USA Diving will listen to us. Many people still don’t know about those changes and I heard lots of discussions during last week regionals about Age Group Nationals and how top 12 divers (now it’s actually 10 on springboard and 8 on platforms) advancing to Nationals and can downgrade to Age Group. Next time you are making changes please let people know and have open discussion.

  23. With the new changes to the USA Diving calendar, It appears that there is now even more Regionals/Zone hopping by teams due to the significantly reduced number of junior divers advancing from zones to Nationals. This is time consuming, frustrating and even more expensive for families. Excellent Divers who remain in their very competitive zones now either face elimination at zones or a long, expensive and exhausting week of competition at Nationals if they place 4-8 on platform or 4-10th on springboard. It seems that the new changes make the junior competitions more like senior level competition- fewer spots, medals only for places 1-3….. Not very encouraging for our younger divers.

  24. After studying the schedule for 2015 nationals, I want to voice my opinion. I do hope there is reconsideration for future years. Instead of the national event taking a few days of our vacation it will take the entire week. I want my son to participate but this is getting to be too demanding of our time. Like many families we take a week maybe two weeks off a year to spend time together. None of us, not even our son, wants to sacrifice our entire vacation week for this. He is committed and so are we but we value our vacation time. It is one time each year we get to enjoy time that is unstructured and just for us. The old schedule allowed us to plan our vacation this leaves us in limbo. Will we be there 3 days or an entire week? I guess we will commit to 3 days and not stay for semi finals even if we qualify. What an inconsiderate schedule you have come up with!

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