If you're overcome with the desire to experience the thrill of cliff diving, follow these tips to improve your chances of swimming out unharmed:
- Start low and slow. Before you head to the cliffs, practice the pencil dive from high-dive platforms at a swimming pool. In a pencil dive, you strive to make your body as slim and straight as a pencil. Jump feet first with your arms held tightly to your sides and your feet pressed together and pointed downward. This minimizes the surface area that strikes the water, reducing the force of impact.
- Use the buddy system. Don't dive alone.
- Explore the water. Before diving, swim around your landing area to check the depth of the water and search for any obstacles.
- Plan your exit. Before you plunge into the water, plan where you'll get out and how you'll get back.
- Dress for success. A wetsuit adds a layer of cushioning between you and the water. Skip the water shoes, though, to reduce the surface area of the first body part that makes impact with the water.
- Keep it simple. You need to enter the water in a straight, vertical line. Any deviation from this toes-first, narrow-entry position risks injury and assures increased pain. Midair flips and twists can send you askew, so leave those to professionals.
For more information on cliff diving, see the links on the following page.