1972 Honor Diver
FOR THE RECORD: Only U.S. diver to win all platform and springboard events for every available U.S. diving title, both indoor and outdoor competitions in one year (1941). Developed technique for the execution of combination twisting and somersaulting dives.
Earl Clark's brilliant diving career started in South Florida in the mid-thirties. A graduate of Miami Edison High School, Clark enrolled at Ohio State University the winter quarter of 1938 where he became a teammate of two great National Champions, Jim Patterson, and Al Patnik. From 1937 through 1941, these three men completely dominated U.S. diving.
As with Olympic double winners, Al White and Pete Desjardins, Clark excelled on both springboard and platform, yet WWII robbed him of an Olympic chance when both the 1940 and 194 games were cancelled.
As a Hall of Famer, at least three of Earl Clark's accomplishments must be recorded:
Patnik's only defeat--
Diving's only Grand Slam--
Twist on the long axis--
Subsequently, practically all of the outstanding competitive divers in the country chose this dive as an optional. The commonly accepted style of execution was to perform the somersault first, followed by a late and lazy twist while still in the pike position, which presented the problem of securing sufficient time and space to achieve a straight drop. However, in 1938, Earl Clark changed all this by combining the first somersault simultaneously with a swift inverted layout twist at the peak of the lift, then "squaring" or "checking" the dive at board level in open pike position, and thus providing ample opportunity to secure a straight, clean entry.
This revolutionary pirouetting style of twisting was universally practiced by future skilled U.S. divers, who continued to experiment with Clark's innovation, thereby opening the door for the invention of many new fascinating combinations of multiple twist and somersault dives.
Clark, a fine all-round athlete, also participated in gymnastics, handball, squash, boxing, wrestling, tennis, and was amateur golf champion of Florida. In 1941, he was runner-up for the Sullivan award, designating his country's finest amateur athlete.
© 1972 ISHOF, Inc.