Pat McCormick, Seal Seashore diver who gained Olympic gold, dies at 92

Pat McCormick, Seal Seashore diver who gained Olympic gold, dies at 92

Rising up as a road child in Seal Seashore within the Thirties, Pat McCormick cherished the seaside, cherished the water, cherished competing and cherished taking possibilities. She had no thought there have been things like Olympic Video games, and diving was one thing youngsters did for enjoyable.

However McCormick used diving to carve out her personal particular area of interest in Olympic historical past, in impact calling her shot. Competing within the Summer time Video games in Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956, she grew to become the primary diver — and nonetheless the one girl — to brush the gold medals in consecutive Video games, twice profitable in each the springboard and platform occasions.

Not till 1988 was that feat matched, after which it was by a male diver, Greg Louganis, who swept in Seoul after having performed so in Los Angeles in 1984.

McCormick died Tuesday on the age of 92, USA Diving introduced Friday.

Moreover expertise and a deep-seated want to succeed, the younger Pat McCormick had a devilish humorousness. At Helsinki, she was the ringleader in a sensible joke performed on Avery Brundage, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and soon-to-be president of the Worldwide Olympic Committee. A stern, aloof, unyielding champion of pure amateurism, he was not well-liked among the many athletes.

“There have been 4 of us and we determined we have been going to place his underwear up a flagpole [in the Olympic village],” McCormick informed in 2012.

Enlisting assistance from a USOC official, McCormick sneaked into Brundage’s room, pilfered the underpants and proceeded with the ceremony.

“I ran out and we bought in line,” McCormick mentioned. “We had gotten all dressed up and we marched out and took our hats off. I raised the ‘flag.’ Everyone stopped and thought, ‘Isn’t that candy!’ — till they regarded up. And we bought the heck out of there.”

Pat McCormick, center, celebrates with Americans Juno Irwin and Paula Myers after winning diving gold.

Pat McCormick, heart, celebrates with Individuals Juno Irwin and Paula Myers after profitable diving gold on the 1956 Summer time Olympics in Melbourne.

(Related Press)

By then, McCormick was fairly used to getting “the heck out of there.” Born Patricia Joan Keller on Might 12, 1930, she grew up tagging together with an older brother whereas their divorced mom labored as a nurse through the Melancholy.

“I used to be a tricky little road rat,” she informed The Instances in 1987. She additionally was a miniature seaside bum. “Rising up, I’d all the time been within the water. . . . I swam within the channels and the harbor. And I’d race anyone who’d race me.”

She hung round Santa Monica Seashore and Muscle Seashore in Venice, the place the bodybuilders tossed her round of their routines, and he or she and her brother dived off the Los Alamitos Bridge in Lengthy Seashore.

“Generally, we’d wait till boats have been coming into the harbor and do cannonballs, splashing them,” she recalled typically. “They known as me Patsy Pest.”

Ultimately, although, individuals took be aware of her diving. At 14, she gained the Lengthy Seashore ladies’s one-meter diving cup and was invited to affix the Los Angeles Athletic Membership workforce. By 1948, at 17, she had her sights set on making the Olympic workforce however missed — by one-hundredth of some extent.

“Due to that failure, I began dreaming of the subsequent Olympics,” she mentioned. “I used to be standing there, crying, after I got here up brief and that’s after I determined I’d win a gold medal within the subsequent Olympics. Then I believed, ‘Why not go to 2 Olympics and win 4 gold medals?’ “

Which is exactly what she did. At Helsinki, by then married to Glenn McCormick, an airline pilot who doubled as her coach, McCormick, accustomed to doing dives that have been deemed too powerful for girls in worldwide competitors, dominated. Solely, nonetheless, after a critical scare. In an exhibition at Edwards Air Pressure Base about six weeks earlier than the Olympic trials, she hit backside, opening a big gash in her head. A health care provider stitched the wound, telling her she’d need to miss the Olympics.

“I mentioned, ‘Sir, is there something structurally improper with my head?’ “ McCormick recalled. “He mentioned, ‘No,’ and had this little smile and mentioned, ‘I’ve by no means seen such a tough head.’ “

At Melbourne, solely eight months after giving start to a son, she was dominant once more within the 3-meter springboard occasion, to the extent that she didn’t have to dive within the finals.

The ten-meter platform occasion was a unique story. Teammates Juno Irwin and Paula Meyers each outperformed her and McCormick was fourth after the primary day’s competitors.

Pat McCormick stands in front of artwork depicting her Olympic feats.

Pat McCormick stands in entrance of paintings depicting her Olympic feats on the Olympic Corridor of Fame in New York on Dec. 13, 1985.

(Dave Pickoff / Related Press)

She recalled, “I keep in mind . . . pondering, ‘OK, child, you’ll be able to dwell a lifetime in a second and that is it.’ “

She scored 7s and 8s — 10 is ideal — the subsequent day within the finals, transferring into the lead on her sixth of seven dives. The competitors was so shut, although, that she wanted her final dive, a ahead 2½ somersault, to be the most effective of her life if she was to win. And it was.

“ … I hit that tower so arduous, you would simply see it shake,” she mentioned. “Once I popped up, I heard 10, 9½ and 10.”

She retired from aggressive diving after that, having gained 27 nationwide championships and a Pan American Video games gold medal, apart from her Olympic haul. She would later win the Sullivan Award as newbie athlete of the 12 months and the Babe Zaharias Award as girl athlete of the 12 months, amongst a number of different awards. She is in a number of halls of fame, chief amongst them the U.S. Olympic Corridor and the Worldwide Swimming Corridor.

She continued exhibition diving for a number of years, modeled Catalina swimsuits and, over a interval of 13 years, earned two school levels. Later, after going by a divorce, she delivered motivational speeches, served on the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee in 1984 — her daughter Kelly gained a silver medal in diving in these Video games — educated remedy canine and established the Pat McCormick Instructional Basis to assist at-risk kids get by faculty.

She additionally climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and boated down the Amazon River.