[Editor’s Note: Paul is on his annual August break from site. Deputy editor Phil Hecken is in charge from now through the end of the month, although Paul is still on the clock over at ESPN and may be popping up here occasionally.]
By Phil Hecken, with Kristina Cruz
Good morning Uni Watchers. Today we’ll be continuing with our Uni Watch “reader/correspondents” who’ll be taking a unique look at a number uniforms, and occasionally some histories and backstories, of the some of the sports being played at this year’s Games. Some of the sports are “popular” (and will be familiar to most readers) while others will be a bit more esoteric.
Today I’m pleased to introduce Kristina Cruz, who will take a look at Olympic Diving (actually, Kris has been feature on Uni Watch once before, with a terrific article on marching band uniforms). Not only that, after her overview, Kris interviewed Laura Wilkinson, who not only won a gold medal in Diving in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she’s currently in Rio as a correspondent with NBC. So this interview is a great get by Kris, who shared some excellent perspective and insight, as you’ll see below. On that note, I’ll now turn the rest of this piece over to Kris. Enjoy!
By Kristina Cruz
Any analysis on Olympic diving attire is going to be as much about what isn’t worn as what is. With that in mind, I’ve tried to understand not only the history of Olympic diving uniforms but also how they’ve evolved to what is worn by today’s athletes.
A little background:
“Fancy” diving dates back to the 17th century where it served as a summertime alternative to German and Swedish gymnasts. Platform diving (33 feet high or approximately 3 stories) for men made its Olympic debut in the 1904 St. Louis games. Springboard diving was added in the following 1908 games in London. Women were first participated in Olympic diving in 1912, completing only in plain high diving (no fancy diving). Springboard diving for women was added in 1920 and fancy high diving in 1928.
As can be expected, diving uniforms followed the more modest swimwear fashions of the day. The 1932 US Men’s diving team wore these interesting one piece suits.
For years, women wore even more modest diving wear than their male counterparts. Below is Victoria Draves, gold medal diver for the USA in the 1948 games, complete with swim cap. The chest emblem looks like looks comparable to what the men from 1932 wore.
By the 1940s, men’s diving had transitioned to shirtless uniforms, as can be seen in the image below of 1948 Olympic divers, from left: Bruce Harlan (USA), Charles Johnson (Great Britain), Sammy Lee (USA), Vicki Draves (USA), Juno Stover-Irwin (USA), and Peter Heatly (Great Britain). Sammy Lee, the first Asian-American to win a gold medal for the US in the Olympics, seemed to opt for a slightly lower on the belly and lower down the thighs version of trunks whereas the British men wore what can only be described as granny panties with a giant flag sewn on the front.
By the 1980s, competition diving uniforms look much like they do today ”“ small Speedos for the men and simple one piece suits for the women, though I did think it interesting that Greg Louganis wore what almost looked like black Speedos during the 1984 games (though so did the US swim team).
This brings us to the diving suits of today. Stars of the sport like Great Britain’s Tom Daly seem to prefer as little uniform as possible (as seen in the Great Britain uniform unveiling ceremony).
This style is not unlike those displayed by the Australian’s in their swim team’s uniform unveiling:
To try to better understand the nuances of current diving attire (or lack thereof), I reached out to US Olympic Gold medal diver Laura Wilkinson for some insight.
Kristina Cruz: Why do the men wear, well, so little? Is there a reason they don’t wear the longer pant type suits like many swimmers now do?
Laura Wilkinson: I’m not sure when the suits got the size they are now but mostly they don’t wear things like board shorts or shirts because the material would get in their way when they do their flips and twists. With how difficult diving is now, having a lot of material to not get in the way, much like a gymnast or the girl divers, just allows you to move more and not get caught in your material. Guys don’t need to wear compression pants like swimmers cause they’re not trying to be aerodynamic. Getting in the water with no splash is more about a timing with your hands and grab upon entry.
KC: Do they all shave their bodies? Does it make a difference?
LW: Divers don’t shave their bodies like swimmers. A guy might as a personal preference but in general they’re not trying to be aerodynamic like swimmers cause that doesn’t really make a difference for getting in the water. We’re not going for a time, its more aesthetics.
KC: Why don’t the women dive in 2 piece suits?
LW: Women don’t dive in two piece suits generally because it breaks your line. When you look at a diver in profile, there’s an aesthetic line you see so when you wear a two piece, it kind of breaks that line. We might train in one, especially if it’s outside but it would be like a Speedo drawstring, but not a skimpy little one you would wear to the beach. Mostly it’s about aesthetics. You have to have a pleasing line to the eye.
KC: In early days, it looks like women dove in swim caps. Why is that no longer done?
LW: The swim cap has actually made a big comeback, not in competition but in training. Most of the girls now, within the last 10 years, have started wearing caps again to keep the chlorine from absorbing into their hair. What they do is put a little conditioner in their hair and rinse it and put a cap over it before they get in the chlorinated water. That just keeps it from absorbing into your hair too much. It’s actually helped the divers get healthier hair and grow their hair out whereas before it was like chlorine fried and damaged. They don’t wear it in competition because it just doesn’t look as sharp. I never wore one so that’s weird to me but I guess back in the day it was more of a cultural thing that everyone (wore caps) to the pool.
KC: What USA uniform was your favorite?
LW: We have tons of types of suits so it’s usually a style or a pattern fit that I like. It’s been a while since I’ve worn a lot of those so I don’t know if I have a favorite to tell you about now but I think USA diving is sponsored by Nike right now so they wear Nike swimsuits and I know most of the divers like those a lot.
KC: Are there any suit nuances that people watching wouldn’t notice or are they just basic speedos?
LW: It just depends. Like I said, right now they’re sponsored by Nike but Speedo also has a big market in diving suits and internationally there’s ones like Li Ning and Arena so there’s just different styles and different cuts and different materials even. Some might be thicker than others and some might be tighter than others which might make your arms more sore on 10 meter (platform) like your shoulders so you have to get a right fit on what you like and what’s comfortable for you to wear.
KC: Can you recall any unusual competitor uniforms or any that particularly caught your eye?
LW: Just the different styles like the European swimsuits tend to be a very different cut from the American or the Chinese so it’s just different styles. I wouldn’t say anything’s really sticking out in my head.
KC: Why the chamois versus a towel?
LW: The chamois is because you can wring out the water and reuse it whereas a towel is going to get soaking wet by the end. A chamois you can wring it out, use it again, it’s small. It kind of becomes your safety blanket because it’s so routine to use it. And, besides getting you dry and keeping you warm, it helps to keep you from slipping. You dry your legs off so you don’t slip which a towel would do too but then you’d be carrying around a bunch of towels versus one chamois.
KC: Anything else you can think of to add about diving uniforms would be super helpful ”“ even anything historical you may know?
LW: For platform, you hit (the water) at 30 ”“ 35 miles per hour so it’s a pretty hard impact and that wears on your shoulders, like your traps (trapezius) get sore so if you have a suit that’s too tight and pulls on your traps, it’s going to be uncomfortable and make you more so you want a suit that’s comfortable but it can’t be so loose that it’s going to fall off on impact either so you want to find that right fit that works for your body type. That’s why there’s so many different cuts and styles.
What divers like to do internationally at competitions is trade suits when it’s over, and clothes too, but we love to trade so you go home and then you have like an Australian suit, a Canadian suit, and a Venezuelan suit or whatever and it’s just kind of fun to have suits from all over the world and you just remember your friends really well that way it’s just a fun tradition that we’ve always done.
KC: Did you keep the suit you wore when you won the gold?
LW: Yes I did. I’m very sentimental and have all the suits I won major events in and keep them in a box.
Wow! Great stuff, Kris. Thanks so much not just for the overview/history, but also for the fantastic interview with Laura.
OK, readers: What say you?
By Brinke Guthrie
On this 1960s Packers bumper sticker from Pabst Blue Ribbon- an example of using the logo as the first letter of a word — seems aesthetically confusing to me. Also the same thing here: take a look at this 1970s Mariners pennant. Anyone else besides me just see “M” and then also the “ariners?” Now for the rest of the week:
• Got a left-facing facemask going on with this 1970s-1980s Chargers promo glass from Dr. Pepper/Taco Bell.
• This Packers helmet plaque says “Officially Licensed” but in six years of doing Collector’s Corner I’ve never seen this type with the field markings on the back. Almost thought it was a DIY.
• Here’s a set of two dozen 1970s era MLB water-transfer decals.
• Luv ya Blue! Nice old-time font and Pastorini-era blue helmet on this 1970s Oilers thermos.
• Always liked the 1970s NY logo for the New York Football Giants as shown on this helmet plaque. Have they ever used this in a throwback game? Here’s a better representation on this license plate. And as long as we’re on the G-Men, could this facemask be any….longer?
• People complain about how none of the colors on the Cowboys uniforms match. This 1960s bobblehead must have been the start of the trend. Notice he’s got three stripes on the sleeves, so this one dates specifically to 1965-1966.
• You’ll also get the three stripes on this 1960s Cowboys poster by The Master, Dave Boss.
• Here’s a 1970s keychain promoting WHA Indy Racers coach Jacques Demers.
Of Weddings, Stirrups and Bobbleheads…
Few things are as popular on Uni Watch as stirrups, and bobbleheads (especially those created by Comrade Robert Marshall) are up there as well. So when you combine those two things, and throw in a wedding of a Uni Watcher…well, you get predictably awesome results.
I received this e-mail from Andrew Greenwood over the weekend, and well — I’ll just let him take it from here (you can click on any of the photos below to enlarge):
Just thought I’d share this: Got married back in June, and convinced my bride and groomsmen that wedding stirrups was a good idea.
Bystanders on Federal Hill in Baltimore seemed to like them, too.
I also got a hold of Robert Marshall for those bobbleheads as groomsmen gifts (thanks for the help on that one). Pics attached. I think they were a roaring success.
Andrew W Greenwood
Holy shit, Greenie — that’s incredibly awesome. Thanks for sharing and a heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to you and your lovely bride!
And mucho props to Robert Marshall for the great job on the bobbles!
…Question of the Week
It’s been a loooooooong time since Mike Chamernik posed a question of the week for us, but he’s back from hiatus, and ready to go.
Setting aside all historical and socio-political context, what’s your favorite national flag design?
Since the Olympics are going on, this question was kicked around my office. Someone answered with Sri Lanka, which, if not considered beautiful, certainly has a lot of things going on. Another popular answer was Macedonia. It has a Japan-during-World-War-II vibe to it. Again, ignore all context and focus on design.
Which is your favorite? I didn’t want to go homer, but the United States has a tremendous flag, and so does Canada. My favorite flag is Uganda. I dig the grey crowned crane and the striking black-yellow-red color scheme. My next favorites are followed by Albania, because I love the menacing double-headed eagle, and Fiji. I have a thing for that particular shade of blue.
A full list of flags is available here.
Great question, Mike. I’ll play. I’ve always loved the flag, or should I say the pennant, of Nepal. I suppose technically, it’s the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag.
The two triangles represent the peaks of the Himalayas, and the moon and sun are for calm and resolve. If I had to quibble (and I don’t), I’d only wish it were in different colors. Imagine that in green, cream and gold!
Grand Rapids Griffins Contest Design Reminder
I’m currently hosting a contest to redesign an alternate jersey for the Grand Rapids Griffins. All the details are here.
The deadline for all submissions is Thursday, August 11th (Midnight Eastern Time).
Remember to send all your entries to Phil.Hecken@gmail.com in the format described in the article.
By Mike Chamernik
Baseball News: You can vote for your favorite Cardinals jersey (from Phil). … The Norfolk Tides wore Norfolk Tars throwbacks last night. The Tars existed from 1906 to 1955 and were a Yankees affiliate for their last two decades (from @Hobotron2000, via Phil). … The Clinton LumberKings will wear 1991 championship throwbacks on August 20 (from Jason German, via Phil). … The Midland RockHounds will hold a What If Night in a few weeks, when they’ll become the Midland Millionaires. The nickname was one of the fan-submitted choices the team considered when it created a new identity in 1998. … The Rockland Boulders will host a Star Wars Night on Friday, the Springfield Cardinals will salute the Mother Road on Friday, and the Carolina Mudcats will hold a Super Hero Night on Saturday (all from OT Sports, via Phil).
NFL News: CNN ran an outdated NFL shield logo last night. As you know, the current edition has only eight stars, one for each division (from Chris Flinn). … Joe Montana wore a look-alike Niners uniform in an old Sanka ad (from Eric Wright).
College Football News: Mount Union going with the trendy helmet trifecta: BFBS, matte and chrome (from @JesseRedacted, via Phil). … New all-black uniforms for Arkansas State (from Doug Hazard, via Phil). … Coming this fall: A new look for Rex Henry‘s ACC Tracker. You can check it out here now!
Olympics News: Michael Phelps partakes in “cupping,” a recovery technique that uses suction which leaves purple dots all over his body. … Many participants from around the world get at a tattoo of the Olympic Rings on their bodies. This may cause problems in 2020, when the Games will be held in Tokyo. Authorities in Japan are trying to make tattooing illegal, and some establishments don’t allow customers with visible tattoos. … NBC correspondents and former figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir talked Olympic athletic wear, among other topics (from Phil). … Here’s how Halston, Levi Strauss and Ralph Lauren impacted Olympic fashion during the last 40 years (from Phil). … Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American athlete to compete in a hijab, won her first fencing bout yesterday (from Phil). … The process of designing an Olympic leotard takes around two years. That story goes into lots of detail on how the gymnasts’ outfits are made (from Phil). … An incorrect Chinese flag was lifted during a medal ceremony on Sunday (from Mark Guttag). … A French fencer’s phone popped out of his suit during his bout yesterday. And maybe this isn’t news, but I like that the fencers’ masks have their countries’ flags on them. … Chinese beach volleyballer Fan Wang wears a string bikini under normal bikini (good *ahem* spot by Chris Howell).
Hockey News: The NHL17 video game gives players the chance to relocate teams in franchise mode. The 19 destination options include small Canadian cities and Rust Belt metros. … A mask artist’s latest inspiration was the mid-1990s Blues prototype jerseys (from Phil). … New uniforms for the Hartford Wolf Pack (from Aaron Scholder, via Phil). … Jesse asks, “Do KHL refs have the year on back of jersey?”
NBA News: Six incoming rookies, including No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, signed with Adidas. … LeBron James, evidently, has a Kermit sipping the tea Cavaliers championship hat. … I forgot that Tim Hardaway threw a sideline TV monitor onto the court after he was ejected from a game in 2002.
Soccer News: Adidas launched Studio Creator, which lets fans design jerseys for the 2017-18 season (from Phil). … Here’s a MLS uni tracking update (from Kyle Burkholder, via Phil). … Dennis Hurley wrote a blog about when Ireland wore plain all-green kits for a match against France in 1973.
Grab Bag: In case we haven’t mentioned it here, Nike is partially withdrawing from the golf market. The company will still make shoes and apparel but will no longer produce clubs, golf balls and bags. On a related note, NY Post columnist Phil Mushnick called Nike and Tiger Woods out for their nonsense over the years (from Jerry Nitzh, via Phil). … Davis Love III and his wife picked out the uniforms and hats for the 2016 Ryder Cup team (from Wade Harder). … From fashion to interior decor, the more things try to look unique, the more homogenized they look (from Chris Bisbee). … Athletics at IPFW, which stands for Indiana University ”“ Purdue University Fort Wayne, will now be known just as Fort Wayne. The school’s nickname is the Mastodons (from Terry Mark, via Phil. … New logo for Subway.
And that’s it for today. Fantastic job by Kristina on the lede, and thanks to Brinke for the Collectors Corner, Mike for compiling the ticker AND the QOTW, and Andrew Greenwood for sharing the stirrup & bobble photos/story. I’ll catch you all tomorrow, but until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“Good to see that Nike figured out that the US colors are not black, white and optic yellow.”
— Tim Dunn