Thursday, August 29, 2019



The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF) is proud to announce that Satoko Takeuji will be inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019 during the MISHOF Induction ceremonies in St. Louis, MO, on Friday evening, September 13, 2019, to be held in conjunction with the United States Aquatic Sports convention.

In 1960, When Satoko Takeuji was just a Senior in high school, and a member of her high school swim team, she was selected as a member of the Japanese Olympic Team. She travelled to Roma, where she won a bronze medal in the 100m backstroke. Satoko was also a member of the 1964 Olympic Team that was held in her home country of Japan. After that, she took a break from swimming for just over a decade to raise her family.

Then, when the Japanese Masters Swimming Association was established, Satoko was asked to become an executive in the association. She also started swimming classes for adults to promote swimming. She was 43 years old when she came back to swimming. It was then that she began to swim Masters.

Satoko is a backstroke swimmer that competes in the 50m, 100m and 200m events. Her Masters career spans 33 years. She went to the 1986, 1988, 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2006 FINA Masters World Championships and won gold in all ten events entered. She is currently competing in the 75-79 age group.

Of her 40 world records, 10 of them lasted for five years or more. In 1992, Satoko had a stellar year in the 50-54 age group, setting long course world records for all three distances (50m, 100m, 200m). This included dropping the 50m record by almost two-and-one-half seconds, from 37.18 down to 34.87. That record stayed on the books until it was broken by the legendary Laura Val in 2001.

In 2017 she was the runner-up in Swimming World magazine’s Top 12 World Masters Swimmers of the Year. She is a Senior Director in the Japan Masters’ Swimming Association and has held swimming classes for 120 children with asthma once a week for 30 years, in cooperation with doctors and nurses.

Takeuji will be inducted as part of a group of nine (9) outstanding individuals that will be inducted at MISHOF’s annual ceremony. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch in conjunction with the 2019 United States Aquatic Sports Convention.

The prestigious MISHOF class of 2019 includes five swimmers, one diver, one synchronized swimmer, one water polo player and one contributor, from five (5) different countries: the USA, Canada, Lithuania, Brazil and Japan:

The purpose of the MISHOF is to promote a healthy lifestyle, lifelong fitness and participation in adult aquatic programs by recognizing the achievements of individuals who serve as an example for others. To be considered, honorees must have participated in Masters programs through at least four different masters age groups and are qualified by an objective point system based on world records, world top 10 rankings and World Championship performances. The MISHOF is a division of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For more information, please visit:

About ISHOF:

The International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. (ISHOF), established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. It was first recognized by FINA, the International Olympic Committee’s recognized governing body for the aquatic sports, in 1968. ISHOF’s mission is to collaborate with aquatic organizations worldwide to preserve, educate and celebrate history, showcase events, share cultures, and increase participation in aquatic sports.

For more information, call Meg-Keller-Marvin at 570 594-4367 or

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Jim Miller to be inducted as Honor Contributor into MISHOF Class 2019

The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (MISHOF) is proud to announce that Dr. Jim Miller will be inducted into the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019 during the MISHOF Induction ceremonies in St. Louis, MO, on Friday evening, September 13, 2019, to be held in conjunction with the United States Aquatic Sports convention.

Jim Miller has been involved in all aspects of Masters Swimming and aquatics.  His eclectic aquatic experiences as an athlete, coach, official, physician, leader and lecturer- have given him a wealth of knowledge and experience beyond words. And only a person of Miller’s seemingly unlimited talents could fit all his contributions to Aquatics and Masters Swimming into one lifetime.

In 1986, at the age of 35, Miller achieved his first individual top ten time as a masters swimmer and that same year he received the first Coach of the Year Award presented by USMS. Three years later, in 1999, he received the Dr. Ransom Arthur award for his contributions to Masters swimming. 

When Dr. Miller was elected president of USMS in 2001, he laid the groundwork for the organization to make a switch from an all-volunteer organization to a professionally managed national governing body with a paid staff.  And with Miller’s help, USMS put on what was then the largest FINA Masters World Championships in Palo Alto, California in 2006. 

As a physician, he has served as Chairman of the USMS Medical Committee, as Team physician for USA Swimming at the Olympics, World Championships and at Open water events since 1996. He has been a member of the FINA Medical Committee since 2001 and lectures around the world on the benefits of masters sports, nutrition and shoulder injuries for FINA and the International Olympic Committee. 

The prestigious MISHOF class of 2019 includes five swimmers, one diver, one synchronized swimmer, one water polo player and one contributor, from five (5) different countries: the USA, Canada, Lithuania, Brazil and Japan.


The event is open to the public and free of charge. 
About ISHOF:

The International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. (ISHOF), established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.  It was first recognized by FINA, the International Olympic Committee’s recognized governing body for the aquatic sports, in 1968.  ISHOF’s mission is to collaborate with aquatic organizations worldwide to preserve, educate and celebrate history, showcase events, share cultures, and increase participation in aquatic sports.

For more information, call Meg-Keller-Marvin at 570 594-4367 or e-mail:

Friday, August 23, 2019

Becca Mann Becomes First Person to Complete Maui Nui Triple Channel Swim

The completion took Mann approximately 22 hours and was tracked throughout. The trip to Molokai took Mann approximately four hours, while the swim to Lanai took just under eleven. Her final channel back to Maui took about six more hours. Updates were also provided on Mann’s Instagram account throughout the swim.
Map of 64-kilometer swim. Photo Courtesy: Becca Mann
While Mann is the first to complete the swim, this was not her first time in Hawaii’s waters. At age ten, she swam the Maui Channel – a nearly 10 mile trek from Maui to Lanai. Becca Mann was also a member of the fastest all-female relay to complete the same channel swim last year.
In an exclusive with Swimming World, Mann recently provided more details on her experience in open water and her preparation leading into the attempt. Mann included that she was first inspired to swim in these waters after layovers in the Honolulu airport as a child.
As a member of USA Swimming, Becca Mann captured bronze in the 1500 meter freestyle at the 2019 Pan American Games on August 10. Just nine days later, she etched her name in another record book as she consecutively swam to and from these three Hawaiian islands:

Olympic Expectations: USA Men’s Water Polo Passes Pan American Test, Moves On to Tokyo

BROOKLYN, NY. It’s been more than a week since I returned from Lima, Peru for the 2019 Pan American Games. Following men’s and women’s water polo at Pan Ams was the most important tournament I’ve covered—so far—for one simple reason: events at Villa Maria del Triunfo Aquatics Complex represented a referendum on Dejan Udovicic’s tenure as head coach for the American men.
pan_american_logo.svgDespite a number of unknown variables, including the quality of the competition, his men succeed spectacularly. Of six matches, Team USA’s only competitive contest was in group play versus Canada, whom the Americans beat decisively in the gold medal game. In that first match, Udovicic’s side bolted out to a 10-5 lead after intermission, then held off a furious Canadian rally for a 13-11 win.
It was only after an 18-6 victory in the final—perhaps the best the Americans have played in a long time—that the most important question these past four years was answered: would Team USA qualify for the 2020 Olympics? But, given how easily they won gold at Pan Ams for the seventh-straight time—there was almost a “What? Me worry?!” aspect to the Peru adventure. It turns out that the Canadians—far less experienced than their American counterparts—and the Brazilians, who lacked the depth to advance to a second-straight Olympic Game, were never serious challengers to American polo hegemony in the region.
Not that this was clear to me, especially after a disastrous trip last September to Berlin that effectively ended the national team careers of goalie McQuin Baron and defender Alex Roelse. And, there was no way to guarantee the newly constituted roster—featuring Alex Wolf in goal and a couple of ex-UCLA players like Chancellor Ramirezand Matt Farmer at center—would successfully complete the one assignment Udovicic needed  to keep his job: Pan Am gold and with it a ticket to Tokyo.
After the win, the American head coach took in the medal ceremony by himself, and was surprisingly reticent. This reserve in the midst of his team’s significant accomplishment makes sense; what made Udovicic so appealing to USA Water Polo CEO Chris Ramsey back in 2014 was his considerable international experience as head coach of the Serbian national team. This also is what has made it difficult for him to fully integrate with a roster exclusively populated by Californians who have literally grown up together.
Lima, Saturday August 10, 2019 - The USA team celebrates after winning the Men´s Water Polo Gold match against Canada at the Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Copyright Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019 Mandatory credits: Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **
A happy group of Americans in Lima. Photo Courtesy: Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019
So, while U.S. assistant coaches Alex Rodriguez and Gavin Arroyo—both fully integrated in the California polo scene—stood on the pool deck and laughed it up, the American head coach was remarkably subdued—especially for someone who had just delivered on his primary contractual obligation.

Just how reliable were these results?

As it turns out, both the men’s and women’s competition at Pan Ams was extremely weak. Adam Krikorian’s squad has no comparable rivals anywhere on the globe—a fact again proven at the recent FINA World Championships, when the American women won their third-straight title. Expecting the Canadians to provide a challenge turned out to be wishful thinking, and none of the other six teams present—Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico or Venezuela—were within 15 goals of the Americans.
Instead, Krikorian, whose squad had qualified for the 2020 Games in June, took pains to avoid the bad optics of blowout losses against inexperienced teams like Peru and Venezuela. Instead, he took a shot against the IOC’s ill-considered roster limits for the 2020 Games by rotating Olympian Ashleigh Johnson out of the USA cage and inserting field players. The stated goal: have a viable plan “B” in case of injury to his star goalie. Current rules specify that teams at Tokyo can only substitute from its two alternates after the match is over—and the substituted player is done for the tournament.
Lima, Saturday August 10, 2019 - USA ’s Madeline Musselman reacts during the Women’s Final Water Polo match against the USA at the Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019 Mandatory credits: Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **
USA’s Maddie Musselman. Photo Courtesy: Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019
Udovicic had no such margin for error, even though his team outscored the opposition 117 to 26. The looming danger was the Brazilian men, and there failure was the story of the tournament. After Ricardo Azevedo named himself as head coach a little over a month ago, his team squandered a late lead and dropped an 8-7 semifinal match to Canada. This set up an all-North America final, and the USA men blew up their northern rivals behind five goal outbursts from Alex BowenBen Hallock and Johnny Hooper.
The Canadian men and women each had their Olympic hopes, but only one of them were realized. Krystina Alogbo, who has been pursuing her dream for more than two decades, found satisfaction when her team advanced to the Pan American gold medal match against Team USA. That they did not need to win was likely the greatest possible gift; the Americans had already qualified, so whoever joined them in the final was also booked for Tokyo.
Canadian women’s coach David Paradelo’s task is to prove that his squad belongs among the world’s top ten teams. Based upon a 24-4 blow-out loss in the final, he and his players have a lot of work to do between now and July 2020—especially if the goal is to medal in 2020.
For Canada’s men and their head coach, Giuseppe Porzio, the road to Tokyo now runs through Europe. They will prepare for the Olympic qualification tournament next March. This is a tough path; all the major European powers who have yet to get an Olympic berth—so far, Italy, Serbia and Spain have qualified—will be there. It will be a dogfight for the final four Olympic spots.

North America is miles ahead of the South

What was quite clear at the was that there’s the U.S., Canada and everyone else in the hemisphere. Brazil captured bronze in both the men’s and women’s brackets, but their women were blown out by Canada 19-5 in the semifinals. The Brazilian men were far more competitive, though their semifinal failure may haunt the program, especially because Slobodan Soro won’t be around for the next Olympic cycle.
Lima, Saturday August 10, 2019 - Mayelin Bernal from Cuba, shoulder turned, attempts a shot during the Women’s Bronze medal Water Polo match against Brazil at the Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 . Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019 Mandatory credits: Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **
Mayelin Bernal from Cuba can play—why isn’t she in the U.S.? Photo Courtesy: Enrique Cuneo / Lima 2019
Outside of the top three in both the men’s and women’s brackets, the remaining teams on each side had combined records of 18 and 42 while being outscored by 237 goals. This is not surprising; the teams from Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela are considerably younger and far less experienced than their neighbors to the north. They included a women’s team from Peru that was competing in Pan Ams for the first time—and was young enough to compete in the Junior Pan Ams—and their men’s squad was reconstituted after decades of inactivity.
For the Americans and their coaches, Pan Ams was both a satisfying adventure and—in the case of the men—a tremendous relief. For the rest of the hemisphere, there’s a lot of ground to cover to catch up to a dominant USA.

Asta Girdauskiene to be inducted into MISHOF Class of 2019

The International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame (MISHOF) is proud to announce that Asta Girdauskiene,will be inducted into the Masters International Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of theClass of 2019 during the MISHOF Induction ceremonies in St. Louis, MO, on Friday evening, September 13, 2019, to be held in conjunction with the United States Aquatic Sports convention. 

Asta Girdauskiene began her career in diving at the age of nine and went on to win multiple national championship titles in the former USSR.  The platform was always her strongest event.   But life as a diver ended for  in 1982 after she completed her university degree and began working as a lecturer. 

In 1991, a group of fellow divers from the Ukraine invited Asta to join them for a Masters Diving meet.  Up until then, she had no idea that something like Masters even existed.  That meet left a long-lasting impression on Asta, especially the American team. She had never seen a 60-year-old, much less an 80-year-old compete in diving!

Girdauskiene has been competing in FINA World Masters Championships since 2000, starting in the 30-34 age group, and most recently she competed in the 55-59 age group in 2019.  She has won a total of 10 gold, five silver, and five bronze medals and has set three world records on the 10m platform. Asta is also a top-level certified FINA judge and has judged numerous events, including the FINA Masters World Championships.
She says that “by far the greatest experience that comes from Masters diving is the opportunity to meet new people who are all in love with diving. Over the years I have learned that diving is the best way to remain youthful in both body and mind. And I also understood, that in Masters events, your position after the competition is not important. What is important, is the ability to meet fellow diving enthusiasts, share experiences and learn from each other.”

Asta will be inducted as part of a group of nine (9) outstanding individuals that will be inducted at MISHOF’s annual ceremony. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch in conjunction with the 2019 United States Aquatic Sports Convention.

The prestigious MISHOF class of 2019 includes five swimmers, one diver, one synchronized swimmer, one water polo player and one contributor, from five (5) different countries: the USA, Canada, Lithuania, Brazil and Japan.


The event is open to the public and free of charge. 
About ISHOF:

The International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. (ISHOF), established in 1965, is a not-for-profit educational organization located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.  It was first recognized by FINA, the International Olympic Committee’s recognized governing body for the aquatic sports, in 1968.  ISHOF’s mission is to collaborate with aquatic organizations worldwide to preserve, educate and celebrate history, showcase events, share cultures, and increase participation in aquatic sports.

For more information, call Meg-Keller-Marvin at 570 594-4367 or e-mail:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tokyo 2020 Tickets: Roll Up For Golden Olympic Games Experience – If You Have $60,000 To Spare

Tokyo 2020 Tickets – Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organizers are offering high-end hospitality packages to residents in Japan priced at up to 6.35 million yen – about US$60,000. That’s the price of an “opportunity for family, friends and business contacts” to enjoy the Games.
Top packages do not necessarily include any swimming in the program. One package described by the AP news agency today includes “opening and closing ceremony, nine days of track and field, luxury seating and sumptuous dining”.
There are low-end offers, too: pay $1,500 and you get one session at a less popular event alongside aspects of a lifestyle/hospitality package.
So far, AP reports, ticket demand is unprecedented and unofficial re-selling is expected to flourish. For those intending to make the trip: if you haven’t booked yet to back up any tickets you do have or get hold of, hotels rates are soaring.
Brant Feldman, a Los Angeles-based sports agent who has been to the past seven Games, told The Associated Press:
“I don’t know if I can afford to go to the Olympics. For the average family right now to head to the Olympics, it’s going to be the most expensive in history.”
The AP notes that luxury hospitality packages include:
  • specially selected Champagne, sake and beers
  • gourmet dining menu prepared by top international chefs
  • fine wines chosen by our sommelier
  • elegant commemorative souvenir VIP access pass
  • first-class personal service capable of dealing with any request
  • event host and celebrity guests appearances
At the other end of the wealth spectrum, a “second-chance” lottery closed Monday, results due next month. Another lottery is due this autumn/fall for Japan residents.
Non-residents must seek tickets through Authorized Ticket Resellers, which also offer high-end packages and can add a 20% service charge to each ticket and are often tied to high-end, expensive hotels.
Ap ran a random check through a well-known booking site and found most 3-4-star hotels are charging between $1,000-1,500 per night during the Games. Lower-end hotels, such as the capsule hotels offering sleep pods, are charging up to four times normal rates. With a nod to all of that, Feldman told AP:
“If your son or daughter qualifies for the Olympics in 2020, I don’t know how any of those families are going to be able to afford the airline tickets, the Airbnb, the hotels, or get the tickets.”
Meanwhile, organizers hope to earn $800 million from ticket sales to contribute to a $5.6 billion part of the operating budget for the Games that is privately funded.
A report released last year by the national government’s Board of Audit said Japan is likely to spend $25 billion preparing for the Games, the bulk of which, around $20 billion, is public money. Organisers put the figure at about half that, around $12 billion. There’s heated debate in Japan surrounding which costs are “Olympics” costs and which are not. What is certain is that Tokyo’s original projected total costs of about $7.5 billion, as set out in its winning 2013 bid to host the Games was a vast underestimation of how things will turn out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sun Yang Anti-Doping Controversy Case Put Back To Late October & Will Be Held In Public, CAS Reveals

Sun Yang Anti-Doping Controversy
The Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing into a FINA Doping Panel decision to issue Sun Yang with a series of rebukes over an acrimonious encounter with anti-doping testers last September has been set back to the end of October – and the case will be the first to be heard in public since the Michelle Smith hearing of 1998.
The case has not been postponed because that would only be possible had a date for a hearing been announced. CAS’s intended date for a hearing in September was tentative, never confirmed nor published. “Late October” is now the new tentative date for the hearing.
In a statement issued today, CAS noted that one of the parties to the case – which could be Sun and his lawyers and entourage or FINA or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the body challenging the Doping Panel decision to let Sun go free after the incident last year – has requested further time to prepare their case. CAS stated:
“At the parties’ request, the hearing, which will likely take place in Switzerland, will be open to the public (including the media). Full details of the arrangements for those who wish to attend the hearing will be made available once the new hearing date and location have been officially confirmed. This will be the second time in the history of CAS that a hearing is held in public. The first public hearing, which took place in 1999, was also related to the sport of swimming, in the matter Michelle Smith De Bruin v. FINA.”
Smith de Bruin, of Ireland, lost her case, was banned from the sport and never returned. Her triple-gold result at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games is not a matter of official celebration in Ireland, the national performance centre for swimming, which would have been named after Smith had she not fallen from grace, among venues void of any commemoration of her.

The Sun Yang case

Sun’s case is wholly different in many regards but also involves matters of process and procedure involving out-co-competition testers.
Sun tested positive for a banned substance in 2014. His doctor, Ba Zhen, was handed two WADA penalties as a result – one for supplying a banned substance, the other for working with the athlete at a time when he should have been serving a suspension. The latest controversial incident placed Dr Ba in an out-of-competition control room called the shots on which documents and qualifications the testers needed, including requirements he said had to be fulfilled under Chinese law beyond, the counter argument suggests, what the WADA Code requires.
While Sun objected to the identification provided by the man present to observe urine being delivered, Ba objected to the qualifications of the blood nurse. Instead of following the protocol of delivering samples and registering objections on the anti-doping control paperwork in writing, argument and acrimony reigned through the night between 11pm and 3.15am September 4-5, according to witnesses at the hearing of the FINA Doping Panel.
The testing session ended with no urine being supplied and a vial of Sun’s blood being smashed with a hammer by a security guard under instruction from the swimmer’s mother, according to the FINA Doping Panel report brought to light by a London Sunday Times exclusive in January this year.
The same author of that story and this one also broke the news of Smith de Bruin’s anti-doping case, in The Timesback in 1998.
It was March this year when WADA appealed the FINA DP decision to CAS but in the absence of a request for an expedited process to ensure that the matter did not impinge on events at the World Championships in Gwangju in late July, Sun was free to race. His rivals were free, under an Olympic Charter that allows freedom of expression, to protest.
The delay in dealing with Sun led to podium protests, FINA warnings issued to Sun, Mack Horton and Duncan Scott during the World Championships last month and serious criticism from athletes of the way FINA has handled matters.
There are two main aspects to the case:
  • conduct and accuracy of objection made, both off which drew serious criticism from the FINA Doping Panel;
  • the technicalities of what constitutes appropriate identification by testing-team members below the main testing officer, the definition of documents as singular and/or plural (it can be both in the English language, while in FINA rules, the Constitution states that where a word can be interpreted as both, it should be and no singular nor plural definition should be applied), and whether a nurse in China must have a higher qualification than is required by a blood nurse working in the realm of international anti-doping that is required elsewhere in the world.
In the midst of FINA Doping Panel criticism levelled at testers representing the IDTM agency contracted by FINA to conduct out-of-competition testing was a suggestion that warnings given to Sun that a refusal to submit to testing could be registered were neither properly explained to the athlete (testers disagree with that) nor followed through on (no official “refusal” to submit to testing was recorded).

The CAS Statement in Full

Lausanne, 20 August 2019 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is conducting an appeal arbitration procedure brought by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) in relation to a decision issued by the FINA Doping Panel dated 3 January 2019 whereby Sun Yang was found not to have committed an anti-doping rule violation following an out-of-competition doping control.
The CAS confirms, further to consultation with the parties, that a hearing was tentatively scheduled for September 2019 but due to unexpected personal circumstances, one of the parties was obliged to request a postponement of the hearing. Such request was assented to by the other parties and accepted by the CAS Panel. A new hearing date will be fixed as soon as possible and but is unlikely to be before the end of October 2019.
At the parties’ request, the hearing, which will likely take place in Switzerland, will be open to the public (including the media). Full details of the arrangements for those who wish to attend the hearing will be made available once the new hearing date and location have been officially confirmed. This will be the second time in the history of CAS that a hearing is held in public. The first public hearing, which took place in 1999, was also related to the sport of swimming, in the matter Michelle Smith De Bruin v. FINA.

Monday, August 19, 2019

AIleen Riggin Soule

Aileen Riggin Soule
by Meg Keller-Marvin

I remember many years back, maybe in the early 1990's, I cannot remember the exact year, but Aileen Riggin flew in from Hawaii
Aileen Riggin Soule named
ISHOF Grand Dame
to visit ISHOF to accept the Grand Dame Award.  What I remember, clear as day, was that for the event at ISHOF she wore her 1924 navy blue and white USA Olympic uniform, complete with fabulous hat, and it all fit her beautifully.  How many of us could do that 60+ years later? Aileen was joined by teammate Alice Lord Landon, who also donned her Olympic uniform.  I remember listening to Aileen tell her stories and being just mesmerized by them.  I think the best part about being at ISHOF for the last half of a century is the fabulous people I've got to meet, spend time with and talk to.  Aileen Riggin was one of those people.  Don't get me wrong, it's exciting to meet Michael Phelps but there were very few who could tell the stories, tell the history, that Aileen Riggin could tell.......and here is her story, in her words.

Aileen Riggin Soule: 
A Wonderful Life In her own words 

The youngest U.S. Olympic champion, the tiniest anywhere Olympic champion and the first women's Olympic springboard diving champion was Aileen Riggin. All these honors were won in the 1920 Olympics by Miss Riggin when she had just passed her 14th birthday.

If no woman started earlier as an amateur champion, certainly no woman pro stayed on the top longer. Aileen Riggin never waited for opportunities to come her way. In 1924 at Paris, she became the only girl in Olympic history to win medals in both diving and swimming in the same Olympic Games (silver in 3 meter springboard and bronze in 100 meter backstroke). She turned pro in 1926, played the Hippodrome and toured with Gertrude Ederle’s Act for six months after her famous Channel swim. She made appearances at new pool openings and helped launch “learn to swim programs” around the world. She gave diving exhibitions, taught swimming, lectured and wrote articles on fashion, sports, fitness and health for the New York Post and many of the leading magazines of her day. She also danced in the movie "Roman Scandals" starring Eddie Cantor and skated in Sonja Henie's film "One in a Million." She helped organize and coach Billy Rose's first Aquacade in which she also starred, at the 1937 Cleveland Exposition. She was truly a girl who did it all. When in 1996, while attending the Olympic Games in Atlanta as America’s oldest Olympic Gold medalist, she was asked if she still had any goals left in life, she said: "Yes. I'd like to continue - life in general, that is." And she did, setting F.I.N.A. Masters World Records into her 90’s.

Aileen Riggin Soule passed away in 2002 in a retirement home in Honolulu at the age of ninety-six years. At her request, Aileen’s relatives sent her scrapbooks, articles she had written and other memorabilia on to the International Swimming Hall of Fame where it is being catalogued, preserved and put on display.

The photos from Aileen’s scrapbooks capture, perhaps better than any other in ISHOF’s collection, the era when women swimmers were trend-setting celebrities, household names and the most photographed female athletes in the world.

In her own words:
I was born in Newport, R.I., and learned to swim at age six in the Philippines, where my father, a Navy officer, was stationed. Quite small and very thin, I caught a bad case of Spanish Influenza and doctors advised my parents that if I didn’t return to the States, I would surely die. Once home, doctors at the Brooklyn Navy Hospital prescribed less dancing (Aileen had chosen to become a dancer) and more outdoor exercise to build me up. He particularly recommended I take up swimming. I had learned to swim in the Philippines, but soon she found out that was only play swimming.

My new sport brought me to take lessons at Manhattan Beach where I met girls from the New York Women’s Swimming Association. They encouraged me to join them the next winter. I still did not give up my dreams of becoming a dancer but added to it – by becoming a swimming and diver.

As a healthy eleven year old I became one of New York’s top junior fashion models for pre-teen clothing ads in the newspapers and the catalogues. I found it boring. You had to sit still all the time and smile whether it was funny or not. The only fun thing was, you sometimes got to keep the clothes you modeled.

ISHOF Honoree Statue
By 12, I started putting aside my toe dancing slippers, ice skates and modeling for advanced swimming lessons at the Women’s Swimming Association. We were all just kids, and we had lots of fun together and had a remarkable swimming coach. Louis de B. Haneley’s name is now enshrined in the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He was an amateur coach and this was a hobby with him, but he developed some of the greatest swimmers of that era, swimmers such as Gertrude Ederle, Eleanor Holm and many others. Mr. Handley was was very handsome an elegant in his spats and waistcoat. His heritage was French, and he spoke several languages fluently. He was a former Olympic track man, water polo player, swimmer and rower. He wrote articles for the papers, too. Mr. Handley was a great inspiration to us.

Louis de B. Handley
His specialty as a coach was the crawl. In those days everybody did the Australian crawl, which is one scissors kick to three kicks on the other side. Mr. Handley improved the stroke by changing the kick. He originated the American crawl stroke and we were his favorite pupils as he tried out this four beat, six beat, six beat, eight beat and even ten beat kicks with our crawl arm strokes. He liked to start us young so he wouldn’t have to make us unlearn the trudgeon or double over arm we would have previously learned. Learning a new stroke right the first time is best. It’s easier to teach a new swimmer than one who had already learned the old way. We soon had the fun of going all over the place showing off Mr. Handley’s new stroke which some people still called the Australian crawl, which it wasn’t. It was so far superior that every time we entered the water we were breaking records. No one could understand how us little kids could beat all the women who had been champions before us. ‘All the better,’ said Mr. Handley. ‘If little kids can beat the old champions, it will show how much better anyone can swim using the new American Crawl.’

Charlotte Epstein
Besides Mr. Handley, we had Charlotte Epstein as our chaperone and club manager, and they taught us “Sportsmanship comes above winning.” That was our WSA motto, and they also taught us table manners and how to be young ladies in the pool and out. We even learned how to walk and dress and we were always very polite, even to the strangers we were going to beat in the pool. We were polite, but not coy. They would razz anybody who was coy. And we did win most of the time, and soon we expected to win, and we did win for years and years.

The first WSA girls were all from the metropolitan area. Claire Galligan, Charlotte Boyle, Ethelda Bleibtrey, Gertrude Ederle, the Helens – Wainwright and Meany, the O’Mara’s, everybody. It wasn’t until later that the whole world wanted to come and swim for our club. People like Martha Norelius from White Sulfur Springs and Adelaide Lambert from the Panama Canal came.

Even the stars were teenagers. Role models like Claire Galligan, Charlotte Boyle and the “Champ” Ethelda Bleibtrey were still teenagers. I was one of the youngest at 13 with my pal Helen Wainwright. I liked the backstroke best because I could swim it and still look around. We all swam the crawl, and it was almost as if we took turns being the national high point swimmer for the year.

Ethelda Bleibtrey
First it was Ethelda. She was marvelous, the best in our world and as it turned out, the whole world, in everything. Helen came along with marvelous strokes and she was the best my age. Ethelda, Charlotte Boyle and Claire Galligan were about five years older. We were all very good. Helen Meany was a year older, and Gertrude Ederle was about our age, too. We all swam and some of us, like Alice Lord, the first of our divers, began to dive a couple of nights a week and then a lot in the summers at Manhattan Beach and other places where we could get to a tower and a high board.

Well, we were winning almost everything. Only the Philadelphia teams were giving us competition with their good sprinters including the first U.S. women’s world record holder Olga Dorfner, Gertrude Artelet and Betty Becker. Betty was about as good as any of us as a diver and of course she was also one of their swimming stars. We were all swimmers first who then took up diving, but none of us really stopped swimming either.

The thing that was so great about Mr. Handley’s new stroke was that we won all the time as a team. Claire Galligan had been our first star, our first AAU national champion before she moved to California, and Ethelda took over with us. The WSA was the first swim club just for women and maybe the first just for swimming (men and/or women) as opposed to the Turners and the NYAC who did all sports.  We kept winning as a team, winning 27 national in a row before we finished our streak. We beat our competitors, to, except for a few great exceptions like Sybil Bauer and Ethel Lacke of Chicago, Margaret Woodbridge from Detroit and, of course, the Philadelphia girls I mentioned before. Oh, there were one or two others, but by and large, they were all from New York and our club in New York. We got used to being winners and learned how to handle competition so well because we swam against the best every day in practice the same way George Haines did it years later with his Santa Clara girls.

And the papers and reporters of course just loved us – they wrote of cute little local girls setting world records. There was a story almost every day and a picture, and we were pestered by our jealous friends as being some kind of freaks. We were in a way because we were doing it with a new stroke, Mr. Handley’s American Crawl, which he developed with us and eventually took it to everyone else or else everybody came to us.

Of course, my parents saw to it that I didn’t get a big head. Certainly Charlotte Epstein, our manager did as well. We were just kids, pretty good kids, and the press, too, got a kick out of our being the youngest champions. We did a lot toward getting women’s sports accepted in America – we didn’t even know this was what we were doing.

Although Charlotte always reminded us that we were ladies and expected to act like ladies (but of course we were kids, too, and we giggled a lot).”

I was a member of the first American Olympic women’s swimming and diving team. There had been some women from northern European countries and Australia in the 1912 Games in Stockholm, but 1920 was the first time that American women participated in regular Olympic events. Our participation was limited in those days to swimming. Track and field events came later for women, as well as gymnastics, fencing, and various other sports that women compete in today.

We learned that American women might participate in the Games in the spring of 1920. The American Olympic Committee and the various affiliated groups were not in favor of sending women at all. In those days women did not compete in strenuous athletics. No one swam very far. It was not considered healthy for girls to overexert themselves or to swim as far as a mile. People thought it was a great mistake, that we were ruining our health, that we would never have children, and that we would be sorry for it later on. There was a great deal of publicity against women competing in athletics at all. We had to combat this feeling at every turn. Many of the coaches on the Olympic team for men decided that they did not wish to be “hampered” by having women athletes on the team, and many of the officials felt the same way. It took a great deal of persuasion by the American women to convince them to let us participate in the Olympics at all. There were some diehards who never really got used to the idea.

In those days in New York, there was no indoor pool for women that had a 3-meter or 10- foot springboard. They was one indoor pool in New Jersey, but that meant a three-hour commute for us after school. We did practice there about once a week before the outdoor season opened. However, the water was only six feet deep under the board. This was exceedingly dangerous, and all we could think of as we dove was not about our diving and our form, but about quickly putting out our hands and cutting short our dives so we would not hit the bottom with too much force. Of course we hit bottom every dive, but the trick was to have your hands ahead and break with your elbows to protect your head. It is hard to concentrate on your diving form when all you can think of is trying to avoid getting injured or killed.

When the weather permitted we practiced in an outdoor lagoon at Manhattan Beach on Long Island. It was about an hour’s commuting time, and we had to go there for diving when the tide was high, whether it was six o’clock in the morning or six o’clock at night. And the board we used was most unsatisfactory. It was just a plank and didn’t give one inch when we bounced on it. The present-day boards are laminated, and you can control them by moving the fulcrum to make the board more or less resilient according to your weight, height, ability and needs. But diving boards in the early ‘20s were just boards; they couldn’t be adjusted.

In 1920, diving was a very new sport. There were few competitors, and the best ones for some reason seemed to be concentrated in New York, with one or two in Philadelphia. Between us we had it all to ourselves. The California girls came along about eight years later. Helen Wainwright, Helen Meany, and I were from New York, and Elizabeth Becker, who came to all of our contests, was from Philadelphia. We were all about equal, and the contests were very keen. The competition between us was so lose that we never knew whether we would be first or fourth when we started out on our first dive.

Aileen and Helen Wainwright
Helen Wainwright and I were 14 years old. We were also very small for our age. I was 4 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 65 pounds while Helen was a little taller and weighed 75 pounds. Helen was dark, and I was blonde so we were foils for each other. Helen Meany was slightly older, and here specialty was platform diving. She had access to a platform near her home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and everything we learned from a low springboard she learned from a 30-foot tower. She was absolutely fearless.

The girls from our New York team did very, very well at the trials. Helen Wainwright won the springboard, Helen Meany the platform, and I placed second and third. We were the three youngest competitors, and this seemed to cause a great commotion with Olympic officials. They said there was absolutely no way they were going to take children to the Olympics. They had several meetings and then informed us that they would take the next-highest-rated women in our place. Our manager and several other women went to the committee and lodged a complaint. They had a bitter session, but finally we won. In the interim, we had packed and unpacked our trunks several times. We were so depressed and disappointed because we felt that we had won fairly – and we had – and that we should represent our country. We also wanted that trip to Europe. Eventually it was ironed out, and we got our passports and were measured for our uniforms at Spaulding’s which donated the outfits that year.

Aileen in Olympic uniform
We had navy blue suits and white flannel suits with our USA emblem on the front pocket. Helen Wainwright and I were allowed to have short skirts because we were still considered children. Helen Meany was just enough older to wear the long skirts that were the fashion in those days. We all had white shoes, and we wore ridiculous straw hats that were the same as the men’s. They were the English schoolboy style that was then popular.

I think I should mention our bathing suits. In those days we wore one-piece suits for racing, with a little skirt across the front. The actual racing suit was made of silk. We usually showed ourselves only at the start. We would then take off our robes, go to the starting block, and start, because those suits were rather revealing. We did not like to expose ourselves too much. For diving we wore woolen suits. They were warmer, and we felt more comfortable in them. They also had skirts. Once in a while the skirt would fly out and spoil the line of the dive. They older girls who were in high school wore long bathing suits, also made of wool and very flattering. They gave clear straight lines, no bulges or bumps and were very attractive. The girls looked something like seals when they entered the water with those pretty suits. Because we were considered children, we were allowed to wear the short suits that were something like the ones worn today.

Before the Games, we were issued new bathing suits, which caused a great deal of laughter and we absolutely refused to wear them. They were made of cotton material that clung very much like silk when wet. These suits had legs to the knee and sleeves to the elbow. They were one piece, and they were cut rather low in front. They were full-fashioned, and we weren’t – at least Helen Wainright and I weren’t – so we were allowed to wear our own suits because we simply couldn’t fit into these. They were enormous, and we looked ridiculous in them. I don’t think any of the American girls wore these suits. I saved mine for years just as a joke to take out and look at once in a while. People couldn’t believe that we had been expected to wear those things.

Our send-off to Antwerp was from the Manhattan Opera House in New York, on 34th Street near Penn Station. We marched from there to the ferry, and then we got on the Princess Matoika, in Hoboken, New Jersey. The Princess Matoika was a transport ship that had been in service during the war and was now carrying supplies to our forces in Europe. Our hearts sank when we saw the old tub. It was a bad wreck of a ship, but it proudly displayed “American Olympic Team” across the side in large letters, and we really didn’t care about how poor the shop looked because we were so excited to be going.

The morning after our departure, we went upon deck and were absolutely amazed by what we saw. The entire ship had been transformed into one large gymnasium. It was unbelievable. The decks had been covered with cork to make a track on which the athletes could run. There was a boxing ring and a fencing strip, and there was a place for calisthenics. The pistol team had their target equipment. The javelin throwers had a rope attached to their javelins and threw them out to sea. It probably didn’t help them a great deal, but it kept their arms in shape. Then, when we walked off, we saw what was to be our swimming pool for 13 days. On deck there was a framework of boards, and inside of this was a canvas tank suspended from the edges. It was filled with sea water from the Gulf Stream, so it was nice and warm, and we couldn’t wait to get into it. We would swim against the cock in a stationary position with a belt around our waists.

The Duke
There was a great deal to do on the ship. In the evenings before curfew we would go up on the top decks and gather around and listen to our Hawaiian team members sing and play their ukuleles and guitars. There were about 11 of them, and they were all swimmers. The most prominent was Duke Kahanamoku, who won the 100 meter freestyle in Stockholm in 1912 and was to repeat his victory in Antwerp in 1920. They were very accomplished musicians, and every one seemed to have a beautiful, sweet voice. We were entranced listening to them and sitting under the full moon, sailing across the Atlantic. Even though we were supposed to be children, it was a most romantic experience.

We were all glad to arrive in Antwerp. We girls went directly to our quarters, which were in the old American Hostess House which had been used during World War I for visiting Red Cross women and any other women who had official business in Belgium. It was about a four-or-five story building, and we were on the top in a dormitory-type accommodation with about six or eight beds in each room. It was comfortable, and we didn’t mind running up those flights of stairs at our age.

The men were in a schoolhouse, and they were not happy. I understand that it was very uncomfortable, and they complained bitterly about their accommodations. This was, of course, in the days before Olympic villages.

On our second day in Antwerp an Army truck came to drive us to the stadium where we were to swim. World fail me in describing our first view of this place. I had never seen anything like it. It was just a ditch. I believe they had had rowing races there at one time. There were boardwalks around the pool – I have to call it a pool – to mark the ends. In the center were the diving board and the diving platform. On one side there was a hill, and on this were placed bleachers where some 10,000 persons could sit. This was, of course, all outdoors, and we heard later that this had been the city moat. It was a ditch that had been dug with an embankment on one side to be a protection in case of war.

The water was entirely black. It was dark, dark black. The weather was quite chilly. But we decided to quickly get into our suits and test this “pool” where we were going to practice for the next several weeks. We came running down, and the first girl who dived in let out the most dreadful shriek. The water was the coldest we had encountered. It was simply freezing. And the day was overcast, as most of the days were, and this seemed to make it even colder. The swimmers bravely tried to do their laps, but some of the girls were eventually carried out almost unconscious. Others were unable to climb up the stairs to get out, it was so frigid. Diving was not quite as bad, but each time we dived all we could think of was the cold water that we were going to hit. We learned to bring towels and bathrobes and woolen stockings and socks and mufflers and anything we could find to keep them warm. Many of the girls helped each other by giving rubdowns between dives. We were so cold that our lips were blue and our teeth were chattering. To make things more miserable, there were no hot showers in the dressing room. It was probably even worse for the men because it is said that women can withstand cold better than men.

The water polo players had it even worse. They finally shortened the length of the water polo periods to half the usual time. They were in the water for 7 _ minutes for each period, but even this was too much. Some of the men had to be rescued as they were losing consciousness from the cold.

Because the water was so cold and dark when we dived in, we would sometimes become disoriented. We didn’t know which way was up. When we were going off the tower and diving as deep as possible to make a clean entry, often 15 feet or more, it was particularly difficult to determine which way to come up. This was very frightening to me. Several times I was running out of air, and sometimes I had a feeling that I was not going to make it to the surface.

Once in a while we would have a sunny day, and then everyone would turn out from all the countries, and we would socialize and talk to various people. There was a Swedish boy who was even younger than we were. His name was Niklas Skoglund, and he was to get second place in the diving. We had lots of fun with him as we were all the same age and were doing the same sport. He spoke very good English. Later on we saw him again at the Paris Games in 1924, and by that time spoke four or five languages. We all traded pins, which as the custom.

When we were not training, we went on several trips around Antwerp in our truck, and one was to the battlefields. The mud was so deep that we could not walk, so we stopped along the line and bought some wooden shoes and learned how to walk in them. They were not too comfortable, but they did protect our feet from the mud. I do not know how we happened to be allowed on the battlefields, because they had not been cleared. In places they were still the way they were in 1918, when the Armistice was declared. We even picked up shells and such things and brought them home as souvenirs. There were trenches and pill boxes and things like that scattered about the fields, and we looked into some of them, and they were deep in water. There were German helmets lying of the field, and we brought some home with us. I picked up a boot and dropped it very hurriedly when I saw that it still had the remains of a human foot inside. It was a weird experience and we were glad to leave. It must have taken them another year to clear off the battlefields from the way we saw them. They were in shambles.

After about two weeks of practice, the Games officially opened. We all gathered on the opening day to march into the stadium. We wore our uniforms, of course, and as we hadn’t had any practice in marching, we just walked in. But we did try to keep straight lines. We walked around the stadium, and there were the King and Queen of Belgium in the royal box. We took the Olympic oath, the king welcomed us, and thousands of pigeons were let loose.

There were only 26 participating countries in those days. There were no Russians because they were just getting over their revolution. And there were no Germans because it was right after the war. The were a defeated nation, and they would not have been very welcome in Belgium at that time. Most of the athletes came from Europe, although there were also sizable teams from Australia, South Africa, India and Canada.

The swimming and diving events were held the second week. Our girls did very well in swimming. We got first, second and third in the two freestyle events, and we won the relay. We had our amazing American Crawl, and our girls were dominant although no flip turns and no starting blocks such as they use now, and the paralyzing cold water slowed everyone down. But our girls won everything and we were the new champions.

Helen Meany
In the diving competition, I was the only girl who was entered in two events. Helen Wainwright decided to concentrate on the springboard and Helen Meany on the high tower. It was a strain to do two events.
The foreign girls were very, very good at platform diving. They had a great deal of speed and force in their dives and were able to get good height from the tower and had beautiful entries. They were excellent, but at that time the contest included only swan dives.

Our Helen Meany could have won so easily if they had had fancy high diving. As it was, I was the top American with a fifth place finish. However, we did gain a great deal of experience in the high dive and did much better in 1924.

The springboard diving was held on the next-to-last day. Before the event the required two unknown dives were drawn from a hat, and we found that we were to do one forward somersault running on the layout position. This does not sound like a difficult dive, but it is if you do it slowly. It requires a lot of restraint because one is supposed to run and get height on the dive and enter the water perpendicularly. The other dive, as I remember, was some kind of gainer.

Helen Wainwright and I were fairly even until this last dive. I was fortunate that day to be diving last. This is not always considered the best position because the judges compare you with all the divers who have gone before. This time it was fortunate for me because I watched everyone else go over on this forward running layout somersault, and I made up my mind that I would not go over – that I would go almost as if I was in slow motion. It worked, and I entered the water up and down as I should – feet first.

Aileen Riggin, gold medalist
We did not immediately find out who had won. The judging was very complicated. They did not hold up their marks right after the dive as they do today. In 1920 each judge kept an individual score, which he turned in at the end of the contest. There was an enormous master chart that had to be filled out; it took several hours to get the results. We dressed and went back to the hostess house for lunch. When we came back they finally announced the results, and I had won. Unlike today’s Olympians, the winner did not parade around and receive he medal and listen to his or her national anthem or receive any award at that time. We all received our medals and trophies on the last day of the games.

At the closing ceremonies in the track and field stadium, we lined up alphabetically in front of the stands. The king of Belgium was on a raised platform, and he had his sons on each side of him. As the names were called, we walked up to receive our prizes, and the king awarded the first-place medal and also a statuette. The princes gave out the medals for second and third place. We spoke to the king for one minute, and he asked how old we were. We answered and said, “Thank you,” and went back to our places. Then all of the athletes bid farewell and dispersed. It was very touching. We had been there so long that we had made many friends from all of the countries as well as many among our teammates.

After the final ceremonies, the teams broke up. We American girls had been invited to Paris to give a demonstration. They had erected some kind of tower along the Seine River for us to dive from. It was on a derrick, and it was almost impossible to dive off it. Our high divers managed to climb up there and do a few tricks, but there was no place to stand for takeoff. I don’t know how they ever managed to dive at all. I went off an improvised springboard. I had to do something because I was the Olympic diving champion. We also did a little water ballet, which was new then and had not been seen before.

From Paris we took the boat train to Cherbourg, where we got on another American transport. We had to wait several days in port while they were loading it, and one of the saddest sights I can remember was seeing the coffins of the American servicemen being loaded into the hold. They were treated very respectfully and gently and covered with the American flag. But it was a sorrowful sight, and we felt so sad that it had happened.

After a stop in Southampton, we sailed on for home. In New York we were greeted with a great celebration. There was much excitement in the press, and there was a parade down Fifth Avenue. We started in Central Park and walked down Fifth Avenue to City Hall, Mayor Highland gave each of us a commemorative medal from the City of New York. Later there was a banquet at the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 24th Street and Fifth Avenue. The banquet hall was enormous, and it was a very elaborate dinner.

Except for some archers who gave an exhibition in 1904, we were the first American women Olympians, and there was considerable talk about weather our athletic activities would affect our health later on. Some critics thought we would develop heart trouble, and there were doubts about whether we could ever have children. There was so much discussion about the pros and cons of women in competition that my parents became alarmed and thought that I should not compete until I got older and stronger. I was still very small. So I was carted off to boarding school for a year in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was a school that did not have as swimming pool, so I didn’t compete for a whole year. Of course, we know now that it was very silly to keep me away from my sports, but in those days it was the way people thought, and they had to be educated differently over the years.

When I returned to competition the following summer, I had been playing tennis and other sports, but I had not been swimming. And when I entered the national championships I took only third place. This was very hard for me to accept after having won the Olympics.

After that I kept competing until it was time for the 1924 Games, which were to be held in Paris. Of course, we all looked forward greatly to spending a summer in Paris, and we tried very had to make the team. The tryouts were held at Briarcliff on the Hudson. I was lucky and won the springboard tryouts. I was also competing in the backstroke. This event had not been held before. There was a girl from Chicago named Sybil Bauer who was to win the Olympics in Paris. I got second place in the tryouts, which I was very accustomed to doing behind Sybil. I did not concentrate on backstroke because I felt my best effort would be in diving, and because I was the defending champion I had something to uphold.

Things were much better on this Olympic trip. We sailed on the America, which was very comfortable, although we still did have the funny little pool on the deck. We had very nice uniforms. They were white flannel, and we had navy blue suits as well, for every day. We wore hats and white shoes.

Chateau de Rocquencourt
In Paris we were very happy in our new quarters, which were in a beautiful chateau just outside of Versailles. It was called Rocquencourt. The girls were given the gatehouse. It was all very pleasant and comfortable. The boys had quarters of their own up at the top of the hill. The grounds were beautiful, with big old trees everywhere. We had one central hall at the top of the hill where we all had our meals. We had French chefs, and the food was simple but excellent. We had no complaints.

It was about an hour’s drive to our pool in Paris, and this time everything was much better. The pool had been built for the Olympic. It was up near Sacre Coeur somewhere, and I believe that it is still there. We had a big bus that would pick us up every morning and take us to the pool to practice. It was a 50 meter pool, and the diving board and the diving tower were in the center. This was a nuisance. We were always afraid of diving on top of somebody below, and we had to have a lookout all the time tell us when it was safe to go. The water was much warmer than it had been in Antwerp.

I almost never had a chance to swim because I gave practically every minute I had to the diving. I would get in and swim two laps, which would cover the distance I was to race. Of course, I should have been doing a mile at least to prepare myself for the 100 meter backstroke, but I just couldn’t fit it in.

Gertrude Ederle
In swimming we had a little more competition than in 1920, but our girls remained supreme. Perhaps the swimmer who was to become the best known was Gertrude Ederle, who two years later would become the first woman to swim the English Channel.

The backstroke came in the middle of the week, and I competed and fully expected to be second because I had been second to Sybil Bauer for so long, but a British girl named Phyllis Harding got in there ahead of me, and I was third. It was too bad not to have a clean sweep for American, but I did the best I could considering so much of my training time was spent diving.

We had an excellent girl diver in Carolyn Smith, who won the high diving and took it away from the Europeans for the first time. She received several standing ovations for her perfect -10 dives and was a beautiful sight to behold in the air.

The ridiculous rules they had in 1020 for the springboard had been changed. Instead of doing 12 dives, we now did 10. There were 4 compulsory and 6 optional. However the optional divers were chosen from any category, and this was not good because a diver could choose 6 dives from a single category. One girl actually did do 5 gainers and one other dive for her optionals. Today one has to choose from different categories, and this makes for a more rounded contest.

Champs Betty Becker and
Albert Zorilla
The competition was very, very keen in the springboard diving. When we finished, I thought I had won because people were congratulating me. I went down to dress, but when I came back up, I found that Elizabeth Becker had won and I had come in second. If I had to lose my title, I was very glad it went to such a fine person as Betty and to an American and a friend who had missed out on the 1920 Olympic team by the narrowest of margins.

This time after the Games I did not go away to boarding school or to any school. I just took a rest. I had been in training for swimming and diving for about six years, and I was getting just a little tired of it. It is a strain, and when a girl reaches 18 she thinks more of going out to parties and such things, and it is an ordeal to remain in training. However, I wanted to win the nationals and go out as a champion, which I did the following summer. I won the three-meter springboard in 1925, and then I decided to turn professional.

There were not many opportunities then. There were no college scholarships for women. There were no women coaches. There were no professional jobs. There was a stigma attached to being a professional. People were not yet ready for this. People did not think of money in those days. It was more the love of your sport. However, amateur athletics can become terribly expensive. The traveling was paid to championships and exhibitions, and we were usually entertained beautifully when we would open up a new club or hotel, but we received no salary for this.

I decided to leave the amateur ranks. I accepted a job in Florida at the Deauville Casino. At that time it’s a very different setup than it is now, although it is still there. It was a club on the outside of Miami. It was a beautiful casino with dancing and all sorts of things like that. It had excellent dining and a very large pool. I was in charge of the pool. I took three girl friends with me, and we spent that first professional winter in Miami.

There was much more to follow: a world cruise, exhibitions all over Europe, although mostly in England, where I spent a year teaching and writing articles and books about swimming.

As I look back now and see how the sport has progressed, perhaps it was just as well that we did not have many moving pictures of us swimming and diving at the time because the girls who are competing now are so far superior that there is no comparison. However, we were the first ones. There was no one to copy. We had to do things on our own initiative. We invented dives as we went along. We had no coach. And because of what we went through in our first Olympiad in 1920 there have been great improvements. The water now has to be heated to a certain temperature, the diving boards have to be just o, as well as the tower. There is a separate pool for the divers so they don’t collide with the swimmers. There is a little elevator to take divers up to the 30-foot tower, which saves on climbing three flights of stairs for each dive. Now one can concentrate on just the dive and not on catching one’s breath.

The bathing suits are more practical. There are new training methods. We had no such things as trampolines and harnesses to get us through the feeling of the dive the first time. The only protection we had was to put on a thick sweatshirt so when one landed flat, it would somehow lessen the sting of landing in the water.