People have been taking the plunge —jumping off cliffs and rocks into water to amuse themselves—since ancient times. Historical evidence suggests that diving dates back at least to Greece’s ancient games. In Naples, Italy, a 2,500-year-old tomb depicts a man diving from a narrow platform.
The world’s earliest competitive diving may have taken place over a millennium ago in ancient China. During the Song dynasty 宋 (960–1279 CE), people performed a kind of fancy diving called “aquatic trapeze.” 水秋千. Participants took off from a rolling trapeze, turned somersaults in the air, then dived into the water. Aquatic trapeze-diving competitions were held in palaces and cities. Techniques included the “starting dive,” “somersault,” “body opening,” and “entry work.” Aquatic trapeze closely resembled modern competitive diving.