Olympic Diving Coach Lyle Draves Dies At Age 103

by Suzie Fox 5

January 16th, 2018 Diving, News

Considered a pioneer as one of the most successful early pure diving coaches (as opposed to a combined diving and swimming coach), Lyle Draves died in California at the age of 103. Draves coached several Olympians, including Vicki Manalo Draves (gold in 1948 for 10-meter platform, and 3-meter springboard), Pat McCormick (gold in 1952 and 1956 for 10-meter platform, and 3-meter springboard) and Sue Gossick (gold in 1968 for 3-meter springboard). Over his coaching career, Draves led divers to 12 Olympic medals – 7 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze. In 1989, Draves was named an Honor Coach by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Coaching Olympians to Victory

Born in Iowa in 1914, Draves first coached for the Lido Club at the Ambassador Hotel, located at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, then moved to the Athens Athletic Club in Oakland. It was there that Draves met diver Vicki Manalo and became her coach. Following the couple’s marriage in 1946, Vicki competed in the 1948 London Olympics, and won gold in the Platform and Springboard competitions. She was the first American female to win two gold medals in the Olympics and the first female Asian-American to win gold. Pat McCormick, another Draves protege, was the first female to win a double-double – two gold medals in consecutive Olympic games.

Success Outside of the Pool

Following a successful coaching career, Draves went on to work as a Hollywood film editor and produced several top-rated diving shows, which sometimes featured guest stars Buster Crabbe, Johnny Weissmuller, and Esther Williams. Draves continued to coach at Jack Kramer’s Athletic Club and then UCLA. Vicki and Lyle had four sons – David, Jeffrey, Dale and Kim, who have gone on to find success as Acapulco and World Champion high divers, and have performed at Magic Mountain, Sea World and Marineland, performing high and trick dives.


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103 yrs old! Born in 1915. Born before 19th amendment and 12 yrs before first television broadcast. Older than most WWII vets. Alive during the Johnny Weissmuller and Michael Phelps eras. Here’s to a long life well-lived. RIP.


Born in July 1914 when the WW1 began.


Well done sir.

Patricia Bentley Fiscella

Just an FYI, Lyle Draves first married my mother, Madeline Mann, in 1936. Madeline traveled with Lyle and many other divers in his early swimming show days. They had one child, a daughter, Barbara Draves (my half sister), who passed away in 2005. She was his only daughter.

Marcia Palmer

I did not know that Barbara had a sister. Lyle was my uncle, brother to my mother. I last saw Barbara in 2000, I think, at a family reunion. She wasn’t well at all.

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