Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy 95th Birthday LYLE DRAVES!!

One of the true coaching legends of the sport of diving turns 95 years old today -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY to LYLE DRAVES!! Here is the biography from the International Swimming Hall of Fame on the 1989 Inductee:

LYLE DRAVES (USA)1989 Honor Coach

FOR THE RECORD: Lyle Draves was the first pure diving coach developing 3 Olympic Champions: Vicki Manalo Draves (his wife), Pat McCormick, Sue Gossick. Vicki was the 1st woman to win the Platform and Springboard at the same Olympics (1948). McCormick followed by becoming the first double, double Olympic gold winner (1952, 1956). Gossick won the Springboard in 1968. Draves coached female divers to 12 Olympic medals and 35 National Championships. His Olympic silver medalists include Paula Jean Myers and Zoe Ann Olsen, each of whom took a bronze. His divers Olympic medal count reads 7 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze.

Lyle Draves was America's first great diving coach beginning an era when diving coaches could specialize in divers and not coach swimmers too, or vice versa. He was a Hollywood film editor and his show biz background has helped his coaching or again, vice versa since Draves was diving in and then producing, top rated diving water shows before he became a film editor.

An Iowa farm boy, Draves met Fred Cady at a swimming meet in Iowa. Fred invited him to California where Lyle began coaching divers at the Lido Club at the famed Ambassador Hotel and at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. One of his first pupils was a 12 year old girl named Zoe Ann Olsen. Next, they both moved to the Athens Athletic Club in Oakland where he met Vicki Manalo. He later married Vicki, who was given away by 1948 and 1952 platform winner, Sammy Lee. Vicki and Zoe Ann took first and second off the springboard in the 1948 London Olympics. Vicki became the first woman diver ever to win gold medals in both tower and springboard at the same Olympics, narrowly beating Zoe Ann on her last springboard dive. After the Olympics, Vicki and Lyle toured the United States and Europe with Buster Crabbe and Dick Smith.

They quit barnstorming to raise 4 boys, all divers. Lyle returned to his coaching, first at tennis champion Jack Kramer's Athletic Club and then at UCLA. His Olympic medal winning divers, in addition to Vicki and Zoe Ann, include Hall of Famers Pat McCormick, Sue Gossick, and Paula Jean Myers. The Draves boys are Acapulco and World Champion high divers who have followed the show biz side of their father's heritage doing high and trick dives in such places a Magic Mountain, Sea World and Marineland.

Lyle lives with his wife Vicki in Palm Springs, California and says Fred Cady was the most brilliant man he ever met and that the secret to success in coaching diving is to follow Sir Isaac Newton and his 3rd law of motion.

** Special thanks to the International Swimming Hall of Fame for this biography of Lyle. Next time you are in Fort Lauderdale, FL -- be sure to check out the ISHOF -- it truly is an incredible collection of aquatic sports memorabilia from the past 100 years!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

YES -- I Do Play Favorites!

Have you ever been accused by a parent of "playing favorites" on your diving team? I think every coach has at one time or another. Of course, the complaining parent is almost always the parent of the diver who is NOT among the "favorites."

Well my answer to this nonsense is "YES -- I DO PLAY FAVORITES!"
  • My favorites are the divers who come to practice on time; all the time.
  • My favorites are the divers who do what I ask them to do it without complaining.
  • My favorites are the divers who are eager and willing to hear what I have to say.
  • My favorites are the divers who bring a good attitude and positive energy to practice.
  • My favorites are the divers who want to get better -- no matter what.
  • My favorites are the divers who work hard; who try hard and who pay attention to me.
  • My favorites are the divers who give great effort all the time (without me having to constantly badger them!!)
  • My favorites are the kids who try and try and try again.
  • My favorites are the kids who stay late to get in extra work on the trampoline or dry board or in the gym.

Yes -- these are my favorites. Now to become one of my favorites, all a diver needs to do is show up; work hard; try hard, do their best and pay attention to me. If you pay attention to me, then I will most likely pay attention to you. I would much rather work with a total non-athlete who really wants to become a better diver than a physically gifted, super athlete who thinks they know it all and can do it all by themselves.

I DO NOT, CAN NOT and WILL NOT reward lack of effort, bad attitudes, disruptive behavior, or the like. I ignore these things (READ: I do not pay attention to these divers -- i.e. certainly not one of my favorites). So to paraphrase Bo Diddley "before you accuse me, take a look at your (kid)!"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Support Your Team!!

For the past two days, I had the honor of serving as judge and referee of the 2009 Private Pool Swim League (PPSL) Diving Championships. The PPSL is one of the best sources for new diving talent anywhere and some of the best divers in the United States over the past 25 years got their start in the PPSL.

This year was no different -- there was a multitude of diving talent in this meet and there were coaches from each of the four diving programs in the area at the meet scouting for new talent for their diving teams and programs.

I am always pleased to see a large number of my former divers who are giving back to the sport of diving. Serving as coaches, judges, table workers, etc. -- selfishly speaking -- it is very humbling to think that they are still involved with diving because of their experiences with diving when i coaches them. The judging panel for this meet was excellent and they did a great job! The judges were Mike Grappner, Jenny (Chasteen) Fleming, Jenny (Huber) Rehberger and Andrew Campbell. Every one of them except Mike Grappner, were former divers of mine.

I would be remiss without saying that the only thing that was disappointing about this meet was the incredibly low number of spectators and "diving fans" at the end of meet. The team that ended up winning the 2009 PPSL Champ Meet (Madeira Swim Club / coached by a former diver of mine -- Elena Schaible) pulled quite an upset. Elena has been coaching summer league diving for 15 years and has come close to winning -- finishing 2nd a couple times -- but this year finally put it all together to win the Champ Meet. I was very proud of her -- especially for all the determination, effort and work she has put in over the past 15 years. The disappointment I felt was the fact that the ONLY people from the winning team that were present at the end of the meet when they announced the final team scores and presented the Team Champion Trophy was the diver from her team who competed in the final event and her parents.

Where were the rest of the divers from the winning team? Where were the divers from the other teams that were jockeying for the team title? They HAD to know their team was on the verge of winning the Champ Meet -- they posted updated team scores at the completion of each event! Why didn't the parents and divers of these teams stay to watch the last few events? Why didn't they stay to support their team? Why didn't the kids who dove in yesterday's events come back to cheer on their team and be a part of the Championships Presentation today? They sure missed a golden opportunity to be a part of local diving history.

I would be lying if I did not say that I am disappointed in the parents and divers of today. It seems to me that most divers (kids) today simply do their thing (event) and then take off to do their next thing -- disregarding their TEAM. It is sad but I feel that it is a sign of the times. I can recall a time when the entire team (even those who were NOT diving in the Champ Meet) would show up at the Champ Meet, faces painted, cheering wildly for THEIR TEAM. In the "good ole days" -- the pool would have been packed with spectators; the energy and electricity could be felt throughout the pool and the celebrations would be spectacular when the final results were announced. Not so much these days.

Congratulations Coach Elena Schaible and the Madeira Swim Club Diving Team for winning the 2009 PPSL Diving Championships. Congratulations as well to all the divers and all the coaches who participated in this Champ Meet. See you again next season!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


When the words "diving" and "insurance" are used in the same sentence, people think "uh oh -- big expense; hard to get; difficult to afford; etc.) But, I am not talking about this type of insurance -- rather I am talking about having "Dive Insurance."

"Dive Insurance" is making sure that you have a back-up dive or dives that you can substitute into your list at the last minute should one of your regular dives (for whatever reason) not be usable. Divers of course should practice their "list" of dives -- but they should also practice their "insurance dives". This is applicable to all levels of diving. Here are a few examples:


Little Johnny learns an inward dive (401C) and it is really good. You are going to replace his 5111A (front dive with 1/2 twist) because he sometimes does not complete the twist all the way or his form is not good when he does the dive. However, during warm-ups for the meet, little Johnny starts getting too close to the board on his inward and gets scared. Johnny, (his mom) and you do not want to use that dive today. The insurance dive is his "questionable" 5111A -- might not be pretty, but at least it is safe.


Your diver learns a 105C (front 2 1/2 somersaults in tuck position) but goes to a meet at another high school where the diving board is not as good as the board on which your diver trains and they are having difficulty making the 105C on the "bad board." In this instance -- your insurance dive would be a 104C (front double somersault in tuck position) or 103B (front 1 1/2 somersaults in pike position).


Your diver learns a 5235D on 3M (Back 1 1/2 with 2 1/2 twists) and this will replace their 5134D (front 1 1/2 somersaults with 2 twists). During warm-ups the day before the meet, your diver starts "getting lost" on his 5235D. If you had your diver continue to practice the 5134D even after they learned the 5235D -- you could simply substitute the 5134D back into the list and not miss a beat.

As with any insurance -- you hope you never need it, but you gotta have it!