For as long as Richard Marschner has been the head diving coach for the Utah diving team, the belly flop contest has been an even, and he has been at Utah for seven years. This Saturday, Jan. 21, while the Utah swim and dive team will be hosting a meet against BYU and celebrating Senior Day, the seventh annual belly flop contest will also take place.
“It’s nice to bring people in, and I think it gives the normal person an appreciation for some of the pain that we actually go through on a daily basis,” Marschner said. “I think people don’t realize how bad belly flopping hurts.”
The contest, according to Marschner, is just for fun — kind of like a halftime show that is put on for football or basketball games, or as Marschner would say, it is like a “Circus sideshow.” While the contest really has nothing to do with the swim and dive team, the Utah divers are the judges of the contest.
And with judges comes specific criteria in order to win. Marschner said that in order to win, there should be as much body surface on the water as possible. A big splash is also really good, according to Marschner, but the divers know what to look for.
“People can sometimes have the best of intentions of wanting to do a belly flop, but they just don’t know how to make the body do a belly flop,” Marschner said. “The last couple of years, we have had people do some tricks before it and have actually been able to pull off the belly flop, so that helps.”
The past few years, former Utah gymnast Becky Tutka has won, and Marschner said that’s why she won. Marschner explained that it is hard to control the body, but Tutka knew how to control her body to make it belly flop. Tutka was fearless, but Marschner doesn’t believe she is around anymore, so someone else will be given a chance this year to win.
Since the contest will be taking place after the meet, Marschner thinks that it is a good comic relief from the stress of the rivalry meet. And he mentioned that though the meet is healthy and fun, the contest is a fun thing to have while watching people potentially hurting themselves.
“It’s open to students here, but I don’t know how they choose them, Marschner said. “It is a chance to inflict some pain upon yourself and potentially win a prize.”
The contest will be taking place in the Ute Natatorium on Saturday after the meet. The first place prize is $300.
“I think [the contest] is great,” said head swim coach Joe Dykstra. “It has become something that fans and the campus community look forward to each year. I think everyone in the building enjoys watching it.”