The impact divers David Boudia and Katrina Young have on their sports is undeniable, but the groundbreaking skills they perform can take a toll on their bodies. Susie Parker-Simmons, a physiologist with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, explains how an athlete's growth is monitored to avoid injury. “Changing the Games” is a 10-part video series produced in collaboration with Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
Changing the Games - The Impact of Olympic Diving
KATHRYN TAPPEN reporting:
For Olympians David Boudia and Katrina Young, diving off a 10-meter platform, the equivalent of a three-story building, is just another day at the office.
KATRINA YOUNG (USA Diving): It feels exhilarating.
DAVID BOUDIA (Olympic Gold Medalist): You're going 35 miles an hour head first at the water and you're flipping and you're twisting.
TAPPEN: They pack their skills into a dive that lasts less than two seconds with precision and grace.
YOUNG: You have just that one moment to do something you've been working your whole life towards and I like that pressure.
BOUDIA: You hear just that crashing, almost like ripped paper, going into the water and you know that's a good dive.
ANNOUNCER: David Boudia has won gold!
TAPPEN: The impact these elite divers have had on their sport is undeniable, but these ground-breaking skills can take a toll on their bodies.
YOUNG: Usually it’s two to three times per week that we practice on 10-meter. It's a lot of impact on your body and my shoulders, my traps, and my neck all get tired.
BOUDIA: I am training four to five hours a day, five to six days a week, 300 days a year for four years straight for a dive that takes almost less than two seconds. And you're doing it six times so my Olympic experience goes down to eight seconds and its either a make or break in those seconds.
TAPPEN: For Boudia, who is transitioning to the 3-meter springboard for the 2020 Olympic Games, the pounding on his legs can be unrelenting.
BOUDIA: You have to have stronger more powerful legs cause you have to bend the board down so that you can get the ultimate height off the springboard so you can fit your dive in. You're doing a ton of hurdles, so the approach on the board is what you call hurdle, but you're doing a ton of those and it just wears and tears on your legs.
TAPPEN: With the incredible amount of force that is required to launch these athletes into the air, scientists and doctors are monitoring body composition and skeletal growth to reduce the risk of injury and extend their careers for as long as possible. While Young and Boudia are now adults, monitoring growth and impact is particularly important for young athletes, as their bones are not fully formed yet.
SUSIE PARKER-SIMMONS (U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee): In a lot of sports, a lot of force goes through their bodies. So when you have a high amount of, say, jumps, and while they're learning a new skill set, they keep repeating it all the time.
TAPPEN: Susie Parker-Simmons is a senior sports dietician and high-performance director for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Along with working with athletes on their nutrition, she is responsible for testing growing athletes every six months to monitor them through growth and development in order to keep them safe and injury-free.
PARKER-SIMMONS: You really have to scientifically watch the development of the human body, because when you're growing, every component of your body doesn't grow at the same time.
TAPPEN: In order to monitor an athlete's growth, Parker-Simmons works with doctors to find out how much an athlete's bones are growing - part of the process of determining an athlete's peak growth period.
PARKER-SIMMONS: The amount of force that you put through your body puts an incredible strain on the musculoskeletal system. And so if your body's growing, you might find that your growth plate, right, is still not fully closed.
TAPPEN: Growth plates are the areas of new bone growth, usually near the ends of long bones, that are tissue, not solid bone, therefore at a higher risk of injury. After a doctor and a physiologist like Parker-Simmons determine the athlete's peak growth periods, they make recommendations to athletes and coaches, guidance based on science that keeps athletes competing to have long, storied careers.
YOUNG: What matters to me is doing my best for myself, my family, my coaches, all of my support team.
BOUDIA: In one second, your Olympic dreams could be completely over, or one second it could be absolutely made, and I think that's why I’m continuing to dive, is I love that pressure.
David Boudia, Changing the Games, Katrina Young, Diving, Diver, Springboard, Diving Board, Platform, Olympics, Summer Olympic Games, Summer Olympics, Sports, Growth, Development, Body Composition, Skeleton, Injury, Forces, Olympians, Athletes, Bones, Growth Plate, Musculoskeletal System, Susie Parker-Simmons, Dietician, Physiologist, Human Body, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USOPC, Physiology, Gold Medals, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Women, STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Tokyo, Japan, If/Then