Of all the phenomenally difficult, profoundly asinine ways to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, this high-dive-into-shallow-pool feat has got to be one of the worst. Me? I’d rather walk backward for a while, à la Cliffy in Cheers, or try to master one of those balancing-balls tricks.
That said, someone did put a little bit of thought into this setup. First, there are a few sequences in the video that afford a wider view of the glorified kiddie pool and reveal that the base is a cushioned mat of some sort. This proves critical: If you watch closely, you can see the jumper bend his knee just before impact. His knee enters the water like a wedge—albeit a rounded one. If that was a real floor underneath the water, he wouldn’t have been capable of standing up and throwing that double-fisted pumper at the end.
Second, aside from that knee drop (undoubtedly a last-second effort by the diver’s brain to abort), he does have fairly perfect technique. University of Virginia physicist Lou Bloomfield says the belly-flop posture is the key to stopping short in that shallow pool. “For him to avoid injury, he has to use as much of his surface as possible to get rid of his downward momentum,” Bloomfield says. “A good belly slam helps.”
One thing science won’t be able to tell us, though, is why he’s wearing that god-awful unitard. —Gregory Mone
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.