2014 Paragon Award / Competitive Diving
Cynthia Potter won 28 nationals to become the most winning woman diver in U.S. history. She retired in 1980 and no one has broken her record yet. She has also won 20 gold medals in world competitions and she was voted “World Diver of the Year” three times. Cynthia competed in the sport of diving for the USA for a record 20 years, both on the springboard and the platform.
She has been given many awards, some of which include:, the “I” from Indiana University, and the 1998 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Diver in 1986, is a member of the Lamar High School Hall of Fame, is a member of the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the World Acrobatic Society Gallery of Honor in 2001.
Since hanging up her suit, Potter has continued with just as successful a career out of the water, but sticking to what she loved best: diving. Cynthia is a Trustee for the United States Diving Foundation, a volunteer for “Champions of Life”, an outreach program of the USOC, was the diving coach at SMU from 1981-1984, diving coach of the University of Arizona from 1984-1996, and was owner and head coach of Arizona Diving, a club program in Tucson, from 1984-1996. She has been a volunteer for Special Olympics, and for the U.S. Academy of Youth Sports Leadership in various cities, sponsored by the USOC, has been an International diving judge for the U.S.; Elected to the USA Diving Board of Directors through 2004; served on the ISHOF Board of Directors, 2000-2005; was co-chair of USA Diving’s campaign to raise funds to benefit young divers; and served on almost every committee for USA Diving since her retirement in 1980.
Potter IS diving, when it comes to television. She has been an expert analyst for most high profile events over the past 30+ years, some of those events include: ABC Sports for their Olympic coverage in 1984 (Los Angeles) and for the Olympic Trials in 1984; NBC’s triplecast coverage of diving at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona; the Olympic Games on NBC in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, as well as the Olympic Trials; the USA Diving National Championships that have appeared on television since 1984; and the Men and Women’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships since 1997.
“She has been a great ambassador for USA Diving”, says Linda Paul, President and CEO of USA Diving, Cynthia and her husband, Peter Lasser, established the Benjamin Foundation Coaches Performance Award, based on results from Olympic Games and World Championships. The gift to the United States Diving Foundation was made possible thanks to the efforts of Cynthia and Peter. Elizabeth and Barets O. Benjamin were Peter’s great aunt and uncle, and Peter now serves as a trustee of the Benjamin Foundation. Barets O. Benjamin was an intercollegiate diving champion at Yale.
Cynthia has been the driving force that put USA Diving on the path to begin a serious fund raising effort. Thanks to Cynthia, USA Diving has created an event called “Rings of Honor”, USA Diving’s own Hall of Fame that celebrates the stellar history of USA Diving and honors those who have achieved excellence and contributed to the success of the sport. The first “Ring of Honor” event was held at the 2012 Olympic Trials and USA Diving was able to formally recognize important individuals in the sport.
Cynthia is always willing and ready to give back to her sport. It has been said, “She puts her heart into all that she does...with both her time and her talents.” With the efforts of Cynthia Potter, her dedication, commitment and love of the sport, USA Diving can only continue to grow and flourish and become a premier sport in the United States. Cynthia has certainly been there for others and has great compassion. By her leadership, she has sown seeds of philanthropy that will benefit others for generations to come.
Recipients of the