What is the difference between USA and AAU diving?


Navigating the different levels of competition a club diver can partake in can be confusing and challenging. This article helps provide clarity regarding two common organizations a club diver can compete in, which are USA Diving or AAU Diving. Both provide great exposure to divers all around the country, and can help divers get noticed by colleges from the level of competition and the amount of meets they compete in. 

USA Diving and USA Diving Circuit

USA Diving is a non-for-profit organization with the goal to increase awareness of diving throughout the country and provide resources to athletes, coaches, and clubs to continue to bring it to new heights. This is the most competitive level for a club diver to compete in (besides International or Olympic), and many choose to follow the USA Diving Circuit. 

The circuit is broken down into three meets, Regionals, Zones, and Nationals. Regionals is the first meet to begin this “circuit” and a diver needs to have the correct Degree of Difficulty (DD), and number of voluntaries and optionals per age group to be eligible to compete in this meet. To qualify for Zones, a diver must place Top 15 in their event at Regionals. From Zones, a diver must place in the Top 10 to qualify for Nationals. However, if a diver places in the Top 3 from Zones, they will be pre-qualified for semifinals at Nationals, meaning they skip prelims. At Nationals, a diver will have the chance to compete in prelims, semifinals, and finals. If a diver competes in prelims, they must place in Top 6 to make it to semifinals (unless they have pre-qualified from Zones). A diver must make the Top 12 from semifinals to make it into finals. 

There are other meets hosted by USA Diving that are qualifiers for International Competitions and club divers are selected from these meets based on placement to represent USA Diving internationally. For the majority, most competitive club divers compete in this circuit as it offers great exposure to talent and skill across the country and can get them noticed by college coaches if that is something the athlete has their sights set on. 

For more specific information about competition and technical rules per age group, check out this page on USA Diving

AAU (Amatuer Athletic Union) Diving

AAU is another popular route divers will choose to also compete in alongside USA Diving. Compared to USA Diving, it is slightly less competitive, but still a great way for divers to see different levels of talent across the nation and gain important competitive experience. AAU is known to host a few popular meets throughout the year that a majority of divers will compete in such as the Red-White-Blue Qualifier, Red-White-Blue National Championship, and AAU Diving National Championship. 

The Red-White-Blue Qualifiers gives divers a chance to compete at the Red-White-Blue National Championship. Each diver must place Top 6 in their respective event to qualify for the RWB National Championship, and a diver will either represent the red, white, or blue region at the championship meet. For the AAU National Championship, divers must have a qualifying score in order to compete at this meet (for 2022, this was waived due to lack of qualifying meets from COVID).

Smaller AAU Invitational meets hosted by club teams also occur throughout the year, which is another way club divers can continue to get competitive experience outside the “usual” competitive season. The meets previously described are more competitive, and the competition field is larger than the smaller invitational meets. Check out AAU’s page to learn more about upcoming meets and rules and regulations. 



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