United States’ Amy Cozad, left, wipes her face with a shammy after diving. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Shammys are the lifeblood of the diving world.

EVERY diver has one. Tons of swimmers do too, but the little towels are more integral for diving than swimming.

What is a shammy? Why are they called shammys? Why do divers use them?

Shammys are towels, but not the soft, bulky, carpet-like towel generally used after a shower. Shammys are made of rayon or poly-vinyl and can hold up to 10 times their weight in liquid and quickly dry after being rung out.

In the early days, shammys were made of chamois (sham-ˈwä) skin, an animal similar to a goat that’s found in Europe and western Asia. The first shammys came into popularity after Europeans used the small towels in diving competitions in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Soon after, the towels were made of synthetic material.

Many dives consist of flips and twists. In many positions (like pikes and tucks) divers’ hands hold onto their legs. If the divers’ hands or legs are wet, it’s easy to lose grip. If a diver loses their grip, well, the dive goes awry and valuable points are lost. To solve that problem, divers use the shammys to dry off in between dives. Many divers consider shammys to be safety blankets.

Shammys are affordable, as well. On many swimming gear websites, they run from $5-$20.

Moral of the story: Shammys and divers are inseparable.