Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Olympic diver towel © Getty

Why do Olympic divers have such tiny towels?

Published: 07th August, 2021 at 04:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

There's some surprising science behind the small towels used by the likes of Tom Daley.

Diving often involves tucks and pikes, where the diver grips their legs. Wet hands and legs can be slippery, so towelling off before a dive is important.


Since Olympic divers sit in a hot tub to keep warm between dives, they’ll towel off and get wet again several times during a competition.

The tiny sports towel (also known as a shammy) absorbs a lot of water and is very easy to wring out afterwards. Some divers also have a ritual of dropping their towel from the diving board into the water to help judge the distance.

Read more about the science of sport:



luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


Sponsored content