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How Shallow Diving Works


Pancaked Pancreas
In 2012, Professor Splash made a shallow dive into a pool of milk at the Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge, England.
In 2012, Professor Splash made a shallow dive into a pool of milk at the Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge, England.
© James Ram/Handout/Getty Images

Darren Taylor, who uses the stage name Professor Splash, is currently the world record holder for shallow diving. In 2014 he set a world record when he dove 37.9 feet (11.5 meters) into about 12 inches (30 centimeters) of water. He likely hit the water at more than 32 miles (53 kilometers) per hour.

It seems impossible for human body to survive this kind of abuse, but Taylor has done it over and over again in a career that's spanned more than 25 years, with a body that's now more than 50 years old. It's obviously a survivable event. But how do shallow divers manage to escape the pool without dying, and without shattered bones and flattened organs?

Even with the best physical form, belly flops from great heights can badly hurt you. The most obvious consequences are bruises, tears or breaks in your skin, and even worse, impact injuries to your internal organs, particularly those that aren't nestled within the protective armor of your rib cage.

According to Taylor, his precise technique is the reason he's never even so much as broken a bone. The water (and the foam mats tucked beneath the kiddie pool) are obviously pretty important, too. The only side of effects of his masterful belly flopping have been a bit of internal swelling. But how exactly does Taylor manipulate his body to prevent devastating injury?