Who would’ve thought that an embarrassment in the swimming pool could one day turn into a whole event worthy of worldwide attention; and n even that even has a Champion! Well in the current age of oddities where new frontiers of extreme and weird sports are pushed to the limit anything seems possible; if you can imagine it, you can create it.
In Norway there is a whole festival and sporting activity surrounding the pool jumping phenomenon simply known as Belly Flopping; and unlike its jolly and happy sounding title, the experience has proven to be painful and in some extreme cases even fatal.
So what is Belly flopping you ask? It’s an acrobat jump from a board into a pool of water but instead of trying for smooth synchronized moves it involves unsynchronized seemingly panicked movements that conclude with landing on your belly.
Apparently, it seems harmless, but if you understand physics and the nature of water, it isn’t that straightforward. Water has something called surface tension. Surface tension is the elastic tendency of a fluid surface which makes it acquire the least surface area possible. Surface tension allows insects (e.g. water striders), usually denser than water, to float and stride on a water surface. This creates a tension on the surface of the water which doesn’t seem like much if you poke a finger into it or land feet or hands first.
However, if you increase the surface area of the impact object, in this case, a human body, the surface tension increases many fold, hence the loud ‘thump’ we hear when a large object lands on water. It is not recommended for obvious reasons, but this isn’t enough to stop the Norwegians from pushing their luck and turning this possibly injurious activity, that usually one would avoid into a festival.
The festival is rather appropriately named dødsing; meaning the ‘death dive,’ which seems to be all some people need to know before taking up the sport. The first look at the sport gives an impression of a rather unorganized jumping spree; this impression is partly due to us being used to the traditional jumping and diving which usually accompanies water based activities.
It seems to be a safer version of base jumping without a parachute; belly flopping is the base jump of the pool world, equally fulfilling but just a touch less dangerous and maybe even a little more mad.
The aim is to stay as flat as possible and for as long as possible before hitting the water and of course, having good style is very important. Right before impact, the contenders are allowed to curl up, but of course, you will get more points if you don’t, it seems that if you’re willing to take the hit, you get the rewards. The winner is selected after considering a whole host of capabilities including, style, timing, curling time, passion and many more.
There are numerous videos of the dødsing jumping festival and reading the comments on most of the videos (not that I recommend you to ever read the comments on YouTube videos) will explain a whole lot about the pain or even agony you can feel when you land that belly flop into a pool, but for a trophy, why not?