Pat McCormick’s diving career didn’t start with perfect 10s.
In fact, as a young teenager in Southern California, her initial dives – off the Naples Canal Bridge and into the water, where she hoped to splash those on boats as they passed by – resulted in phone calls to the police.
McCormick would be reprimanded – and given the worst punishment: She was prohibited from going on the beach for a week.
It wasn’t long, though, before the daredevil’s raw talent was seen by a coach at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Soon, instead of cannonballs and twists off the bridge, McCormick was practicing with the likes of Sammy Lee and Vicky Draves.
McCormick narrowly missed qualifying for the London 1948 Games, but instead of sulking she resolved to make sure she would win gold at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games.
But in 1952, McCormick didn’t just win one gold medal – she won two, sweeping the 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform diving events.
Four years later, at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games – just five months after having her first child — McCormick repeated her Olympic gold medal sweep, becoming the first diver to accomplish that feat.
Diving sure ran in the McCormick family. Her husband, John, was a two-time AAU national champion in platform diving. Their daughter, Kelly, won a silver medal in springboard diving at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games and a bronze at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.
McCormick worked on the 1984 Los Angeles Organizing Committee and started the Pat McCormick Educational Foundation. She also has continued an impressive list of courageous accomplishments, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, traveling down the Amazon River and getting her pilot’s license.