HEROES: Aileen Riggin

 
Aileen Riggin Cred: Gallica.bnf.fr

Aileen Riggin Cred: Gallica.bnf.fr

 

Aileen Riggin learned to swim at the age of six, in Manila Bay in the Philippines where her father, a U.S. Navy paymaster, was stationed. Riggin first took up diving in 1919 at the age of thirteen; she practiced in a tide pool on Long Island because there were no training facilities provided in those days for female divers. She had spent some time studying ballet at the Metropolitan Opera School of Ballet in New York and her ballet training enabled her to fine-tune her performance in artistic diving.

Aileen Riggin Cred: Gallica.bnf.fr

Aileen Riggin Cred: Gallica.bnf.fr


Aileen 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 Olympic Games. In the Olympic Games in 1924, she 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.

Aileen Riggin set a world record in the 50-meter freestyle for the 85-89 age group at the Oahu Club in 1991. Cred: Starbulletin.com

Aileen Riggin set a world record in the 50-meter freestyle for the 85-89 age group at the Oahu Club in 1991. Cred: Starbulletin.com

Riggin became one of America's first female sportswriters and, at the age of 82, she set nine national age-group swim records. Riggin wasn’t done yet and at the age of 86, she won six age-group titles at the World Masters Swimming Championships.