Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Diving Platform on Travers Island for Members of the New York Athletic Club

Tomorrow, May 17, 2014, our thirteen-year-old daughter, Jennifer, will compete in the platform diving competition (12-13 Girls Junior Olympics) during the YMCA Diving National Championships at the diving well of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  She will be seeking her fourth national championship.

In Jennifer's honor, today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog recognizes a piece of Pelham History that few know.  The New York Athletic Club's facility on Travers Island once had a diving platform on which prospective Olympic athletes trained by diving into Long Island Sound.  

Below are two images of the NYAC diving platform.  The first is an undated post card view of the diving platform and boathouse facility.  A lone diver can be seen readying to take the plunge from the ten-meter platform in this view.  Moored sailboats and a small part of Glen Island may be seen in the background of the image.

Undated Post Card View of the NYAC Diving Platform
On Travers Island.  The Inscription Printed on the Card Reads:
"Boat House and Diving Platform, N. Y. Athletic Club.
Travers Island, N. Y."

The second image, below, is quite fascinating.  It is from the collections of the Library of Congress.  It shows the same diving platform with a diver in the midst of a somersault after leaping from the platform.  The photograph is inscribed "F.A. Mullen."

Frank Aloysius Mullen (1887-1945) Diving from the NYAC
Diving Platform, August 26, 1913.
Library of Congress Call Number LC-B2- 2819-2 [P&P].

A portion of "Little Germany" on Glen Island may be seen in the background with the windmill that once stood on the grounds of the amusement park there.  Most significantly, the diver in the midst of his somersault after leaping from the NYAC diving platform is Frank Aloysius Mullen who trained at the facility.  

Frank Aloysius Mullen competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. He competed in a now-defunct platform diving event known as the "Men's Plain High."  (A separate Platform Diving competition also was held during the same Summer Olympics.) 

In Men's Plain High Diving, divers competed from both the 10-meter platform and the five-meter platform.  Each competitor performed a "forward plain dive" four times, two from the ten-meter platform and two from the five-meter platform.  Such dives were called "plain dives" because they could not involve somersaults or twisting.  Divers awarded the fewest number of points in each group advanced to the final round and competed again.  Men's Plain High Diving was contested in the 1912, 1920 and 1924 Olympics and then was discontinued. 

Mullen failed to medal in the Men's Plain High event during the 1920 Summer Olympics.  Sweden swept the medals in the event.  The gold medal was taken by Arvid Wallman of Sweden.  The silver medal was taken by Swede Nils Skoglund.  Johan Jansson of Sweden took the bronze medal.  

Mullen was born in New York City on August 9, 1887.  He was 32 years old when he competed in Antwerp.  He died in Queens, New York on September 27, 1945.  

In honor of my daughter's efforts tomorrow to win a national championship in platform diving at the YMCA Diving National Championships, I have embedded below a recent video showing her performing a 401B Inward Dive Pike from the ten-meter platform during a recent High Dive Champions national team practice at the West Point Military Academy. 

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At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Robert Bischoff said...

Good Luck, Jennifer!

Blake, thank you again for another fascinating glimpse into the past.


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