The Twisting Somersault

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

Outside magazine, July 1999

The Twisting Somersault

The Diving Dig | The Cartwheel | The Figure Four | Take the Stairs | The Crossover Dribble | The Righteous Gitis | The Rock-a-Copter | Hang Ten | The Twisting Somersault | The Wheelie

The learning curve for the typical recreational diver is a profile in arrested development. First you learned the front dive. Then you learned the front flip. And then your parents made you get a summer job. So if you've been relying ever since on the cannonball to awe friends and acquaintances at pool parties, it's time to put some zip into one of your old dives: Add a twist to that flip. "Anybody who's athletic in the graceful sports like skating and snowboarding can pick up diving," says Michelle Rojohn, 25, the 1999 national champion on the one-meter springboard. "And if you know how to do a flip, you can master the twist in a day."

Start as you would for a plain-vanilla front dive: Take three or four jaunty steps toward the front of the springboard, and on the next-to-last one, drive your leading knee into the air for your hurdle, just as if you were doing a basketball layup. At the same time, thrust your arms skyward. Bring your arms down to your sides as you land on the edge of the board, feet hip-width apart, and then bring them back up as you rocket into the air. Begin the flip at the top of your trajectory by bending your trunk toward your straight legs in an open pike, and swinging your heels over your head. Initiate your twist late in the game, just prior to straightening out, when you're completely upside down. To twist left, fold your right arm across your chest while bending your left arm over your head, biceps-to-ear. As you rotate and catch a glimpse of the far end of the pool, bring both arms to your sides, straighten out, and slice feet first into the water. Exit the pool, towel off, and begin signing autographs.


Strong calf muscles for the all-important hurdle. The only way to develop these is, you guessed it, calf-raises.

PHOTO: Greg Betz

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