Inside Events: USA Diving
24 Feb, 2016By: Terry Powers
An Interview with Terry Powers, Vice President
USA Diving is a not-for-profit organization that continues to take the sport of diving and its athletes of all ages to new levels. With new fans, and thanks to the support of a dedicated staff and other partner organizations, diving continues to be the United States’ most successful summer Olympic sport.
USA Diving selects, conditions and trains teams to represent the United States in major diving events including the Olympic Games, World Championships, and the FINA Diving World Cup. Other well-known events include the AT&T National Diving Championships, the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix, and the Junior and Age Group National Diving Championships.
Sports Destination Management: Diving is a very specialized sport. Is there any specific demographic as to the type of athlete that is drawn to it?
Terry Powers: There is, a little bit. What we’ve found is that we get a lot of kids who move over to this from gymnastics. Sometimes, it’s because they got too tall and sometimes it’s because they wanted to try something else. They’re both acrobatic sports but in general, we have a lot of kids who are just very athletic and they compete in a number of sports.
SDM: The summer Olympics in Rio is only a few months away. Does the sport see growth in Olympic years?
Powers: There’s always an upward trend in an Olympic year. The success of the American team always helps; it really was good for us to have medaled in 2012.
SDM: Are other factors tied into the sport’s growth?
Powers: Yes, culturally, a lot of things are changing in sports overall. You’re seeing more concern about injuries, violence, that sort of thing. That has resulted in growth in areas like golf, tennis, swimming and diving.
SDM: Is diving a sport that kids tend to get into because other family members are active in it?
Powers: It does tend to run in families; we’ve seen that a lot of high-performance athletes come from diving families.
SDM: When USA Diving is looking for cities to host its events, what do you look for?
Powers: A diving event is very specialized; you can’t use just any pool. You need multiple 1-meter and 3-meter springboards, plus platforms, including 5-meter, 7.5-meter and 10-meter platforms. There are only so many facilities in the country with all that; it’s not the kind of sport where you can use a convention center or put up a temporary pool.
We look at the facilities first, then at the surrounding community. Do they have a sports commission? If they do, that’s great. Do they have relationships with local diving clubs that know how to run events and meets? Ultimately, we’re a membership-based organization, so local clubs are very important to us. So are filtration systems, gating, ticketing and crowd management. There’s a lot that goes into these events.
SDM: What’s the economic impact like?
Powers: It depends on the event. The Olympic trials at IUPUI, for example, will sell out with more than 5,000 people a day showing up. But other events don’t have that many spectators. However, our largest events can last over two weeks, which is significant economic impact for a city when you consider hotel nights, cab rides, restaurants, movies and so on. That’s a lot for a single event so a good facility can have a huge impact on the local economy.
SDM: If people want to host a diving event or look into building a facility, what do you do?
Powers: We refer them to FINA, where they can find information on that.
SDM: Are there any new events in USA Diving?
Powers: Last year, we were the first country to host a synchronized diving national championship. That means diving has become a team sport and viewership has gone up.
SDM: Why is diving so popular with TV audiences? It’s one of the top televised sports in the Olympics.
Powers: You can watch diving on TV and it’s easy to see if the athletes are doing well or not. That’s one thing. In some ways, it’s a sport that is open to the masses. I think anyone can do it with training. You don’t have to be big or tall or fast. It also has an X-factor: our motto is Grace. Guts. Glory. There’s definitely an edgy aspect. It’s very graceful but it does take guts.