ISHOF Honor Diver and 1948 Olympic Medalist, Patty Elsener Homan passed away on September 29, 2019. She was just 27 days shy of turning 90.
Elsener was the greatest diver to emerge from San Mateo county. She developed her diving skills under the guidance of Clyde DeVine. Patty went on to the Phil Patterson Dive Team that practiced at the Fairmont Hotel Pool in downtown San Francisco, where she flourished for the next five years. Her one-hour daily commute saw her travel on a bicycle, followed by train ride, street car and finally a cable car.
At Patterson’s, she dove with and was also regularly coached by ISHOF Honorees,
Vicki Manalo Draves and Ann Curtis Cuneo as well as national diving champion, Helen Crienkovich.
Elsener captured three straight U.S. Indoor Springboard Championships 1945-47. She capped her stellar career by winning silver and bronze medals in the 1948 Olympic Games in London. She took bronze on the 3-meter spring board, just narrowly defeated by friend and teammates, Vicki Draves and Zoe-Ann Olsen, making it an American sweep. On the 10-meter platform, Patty took silver, again, just behind Draves.
The interesting thing about Elsener was she had a fear of heights. She said “And the diving platforms in those days for the high dive were no fun. You had to climb a ladder straight up to get to the board. No landings or contoured steps like they have now. And if you had acrophobia (fear of heights) like I did, it was hard just getting to the boards for the high dives.” She added, “I climbed with my eyes closed.”
After the 1948 Olympic Games, the U.S. Diving Team did some exhibitions in Frankfurt and Paris. Patty received scholarship offers to join the diving teams of Stanford, USC and Purdue. She settled on Purdue, where she met and married Earl Homan. They settled down to family life in San Bruno, California, and had three children.
Elsener was inducted into the San Mateo County Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.