Draves, Victoria (1924—)

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Draves, Victoria (1924—)

American diver who won the gold medal in springboard and platform diving in the 1948 Olympics, the first woman to win both. Name variations: Vickie Draves. Born Victoria Manalo in San Francisco, California, on December 31, 1924; married Lyle Draves (a diving coach); children: four sons.

When Victoria Draves began diving, her coach Phil Patterson recommended she use her mother's maiden name, Taylor, instead of her father's, Manalo, so no one would suspect she was Filipino. Patterson also enrolled her in his school so that she might not encounter prejudice, rather than have her join the Fairmont Hotel Swimming Club. When she was invited to give a diving exhibition at the exclusive men's Olympic Club in San Francisco, a breakthrough for a woman, Victoria's father was refused admission. Patterson, who worked constantly against racial bias, eventually persuaded officials to allow him in to see his daughter.

Victoria Draves made great progress as a diver until the outbreak of World War II. Then her coach joined the military, and she resigned herself to the fact that her career in diving was probably over. But after a year, she joined Charley Sava's team at the Crystal Plunge where Jimmy Hughes coached her. Draves, who had graduated from high school, took a temporary civil-service position to help pay for coaching and to help her family. When Hughes could no longer coach her, Sava suggested she go to the Athens Athletic Club in Oakland to work with Lyle Draves.

Victoria went to meet the man who would be her husband, an Iowa farm boy who had learned to dive in local fishing holes. Lyle treated her as if she were a diving novice. No one had ever told Victoria how to place her arms, how to walk the board, or how to lift up into a dive. Determined that she refine her skills, at first he would not allow her to compete. Within two years, however, she became a national champion. She also married her coach.

At the 1948 Olympic trials, Lyle was asked to fill in occasionally for Fred Cady, the Olympic diving coach who was quite ill. But when they arrived in London for the Olympics, Lyle was not allowed near Victoria because he was a family member; he got a job as a timer to be close at hand. Draves was tense when it came time for her dive. Unlike her rival Zoë Ann Olsen , a former student of Lyle's, Draves did not thrive on competition and had been having problems with her back one-and-a-half layout in practice. But Victoria Draves became the first woman in history to win Olympic gold in both springboard and platform. Turning pro after the 1948 Games, she joined Larry Crosby's Rhapsody in Swimtime and then Buster Crabbe's Aquaparades. Draves loved touring Europe and the United States. She retired to raise four sons, all divers.


Carlson, Lewis H., and John J. Fogarty. Tales of Gold. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1987.

Porter, David L., ed. Biographical Dictionary of American Sports. Basketball and Other Indoor Sports. NY: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Stump, Al J. Champions Against Odds. Philadelphia, PA: Macrae Smith, 1952.

Karin L. Haag , freelance writer, Athens, Georgia