DICK DEGENER (USA)
1971 Honor Diver
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1932 bronze (springboard); 1936 gold (springboard); AAU NATIONAL (Outdoor): 4 (high board); AAU NATIONALS (Indoor): 5 (3m springboard), 2 (1m springboard); NCAA Titles: 3; BIG TEN Titles: 3; NATIONAL INTERSCHOLASTIC CHAMPIONSHIPS: 3.
Springboard diving, American style, seems to go by eras, at least as represented by the male divers selected for induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
1936 Olympic champion Dick Degener is no exception to this rule, as he is the most exceptional springboard diver of the five-year period that coincides with his college years and the period between the 1932 and 1936 Olympics. Degener was the bronze medal winner in Los Angeles (1932) and the gold medal winner in Berlin (1936). In between, he won 4 outdoor AAU Nationals in the high board representing the Detroit Athletic Club, and 3 NCAA titles for the University of Michigan. At the Indoor AAUs he won 5 straight 3-meter springboard titles and 2 one-meter titles.
This total of 15 Nationals in four years while remaining undefeated in high board is unprecedented in modern diving. Add three Big Ten titles and three National Interscholastic Championships, and you begin to see how Dick dominated the high board until he turned pro with the Billy Rose Aquacade when it opened in Cleveland.
Famous for his tight spins and grace, Dick Degener was rated by the late Olympic diving coach, Dick Papenguth, as the greatest of all divers. His own coaches, Hall of Famers Clarence Pinkston and Matt Mann, said merely "he was the very best of his era." ... which is the criteria by which the divers of different eras ( and on different diving boards) must be measured.