Helen Crlenkovich (USA)
Honor Diver (1981)
FOR THE RECORD: AAU NATIONAL Diving Titles: 9; Starred in Minneapolis Aquatennial and Buster Crabbe’s Aqua Parade.
Helen Crlenkovich Morgan was the first woman diver to do the full twisting one and a half. Trained in the cold and foggy Fleishacker Pool off of old Brandston boards, she dove for Coach Phil Patterson completing a man’s list including the 2 1/2 tuck, back 1 1/2 layout, inward 1 1/2 pike and reverse 1 1/2 tuck. World War II had already prevented her from participating in the war canceled games in 1940 (twice canceled in Tokyo and Helsinki) and in the never-scheduled 1944 games. During this period her dominance of the U.S. women’s diving nationals was overwhelming. After defeating Hall of Famer Marjorie Gestring in both indoor and outdoor 3m springboard in 1940, Helen went on to win all for 3 years. During a World War II retirement “Klinky”, as she was affectionately known, got married, becoming Helen Morgan — only to come back 3 years later (1945) to win both springboard and tower; after which she turned pro to dive in the Minneapolis Aquatennial and Buster Crabbe’s well traveled Aqua Parade from 1945 to 1950. She died in 1955 still in her middle 30’s. She won more consistently and by greater margins than any woman diver. Along with Georgia Coleman, Pat McCormick and Micki King, all Hall of Famers, she has been closer to the men’s standards of diving excellence than any of the other great women in history.