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Aileen Riggin

Updated:2008-07-09 10:27 |

Antwerp, August 1920, Games of the VII Olympiad: the two youngest participants in the diving events (14 years old): Aileen RIGGIN of the United States, gold medallist in the 3m springboard, and Nils SKOGLUND of Sweden, silver medallist in the plain high diving. Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections

Antwerp, August 1920, Games of the VII Olympiad: the two youngest 
participants in the diving events (14 years old): Aileen RIGGIN of the 
United States, gold medallist in the 3m springboard, and Nils SKOGLUND 
of Sweden, silver medallist in the plain high diving. 
Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections

Born: 2 May 1906

Deceased: 17 October 2002

Birthplace: Newport (United States)

Nationality: United States

Sport: Aquatics


Antwerp 1920

Paris 1924


Olympic medals:

Gold: 1

Silver: 1

Bronze: 1

First to medal in both swimming and diving

Tiny Aileen Riggin of Newport, Rhode Island, was only 14 years old when she won her Olympic gold medal in springboard diving. At 1.40m tall and weighing 29.5 kg, she was the smallest athlete at the 1920 Olympics. The competition was held outdoors in a moat filled with cold, muddy water. The stress of competing was the least of Riggin's worries. As she later explained, "I had another mental block. It was about sticking in the mud at the bottom….I kept thinking, the water is black and nobody could find me if I really got stuck down there. And if I were coming down with force, I might go up to my elbows and I'd be stuck permanently, and nobody would miss me and I'd die a horrible drowning death." In 1922 Riggin was the subject of the first underwater and slow-motion swimming films. She returned to the Olympics in 1924 and won a silver medal for springboard diving and a bronze in the 100m backstroke. Riggin was the first person to earn Olympic medals in both diving and swimming. Later she turned professional and starred in Billy Rose's first Aquacade water entertainment extravaganza. She also became one of America's first women sportswriters and, at the age of 82, she set nine national age-group swim records. At the age of 86 she won six age-group titles at the World Masters Swimming Championships.

(Credit: IOC. Click here for further information.)

Editor : LiuAnqi

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics