Yesterday, in Norway, U.S. professional stunt diver Darren Taylor, a.k.a. Professor Splash, broke his own Guinness world record when he dove 36 ft (about 11 meters) into a shallow children's pool filled with only 12 inches (about 30.5 cm) of water.
In the video, you can see that Professor Splash does, basically, a belly flop into the pool. Though it looks painful, it's essential to his surviving the feat.
Doing a belly flop helped to distribute the pressure of the impact more equally across his body so that no one area received an extreme amount of pressure.The same thing happens when an airbag deploys during a car crash. The airbag makes contact with a large part of your body and helps to distribute the pressure more equally. Had the professor done a cannon ball, the pressure of the water would have acted on a much smaller area and packed a more targeted punch, just like a seatbelt restrains you along one line across your chest during a sudden stop. While a seatbelt helps keep you in place during a quick stomp on the brakes, it works in conjunction with the airbag to prevent injury during a collision.
Though 12 inches of water is not much, it was also critical to cushioning the impact of Professor Splash's flop. The water helped distribute the force of the impact over a longer distance, breaking his fall rather than stopping him immediately like an impact on concrete would. In addition to the 12 inches of water, the professor also had some padding beneath the wading pool to provide extra cushion. You can see the padding bowing a bit when he lands in the pool.
Though it's an impressive stunt, it's also deadly. So don't try this one at home!