Marjorie Gestring

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Marjorie Gestring
Marjorie Gestring.jpg
Gestring at the Berlin Olympics, by Leni Riefenstahl
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1922-11-18)November 18, 1922
Died April 20, 1992(1992-04-20) (aged 69)
Hillsborough, California
Country United States
Sport Diving
Achievements and titles
National finals
  • 1938 US Nationals:3 m springboard – Gold
  • 1939 US Nationals:3 m springboard – Gold
  • 1940 US Nationals:3 m springboard – Gold
Olympic finals 1936 Summer Olympics: 3 m springboard – Gold

Marjorie Gestring (November 18, 1922 – April 20, 1992) was a competitive springboard diver from the United States who won the gold medal in 3-meter springboard diving at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany at the age of 13 years, 268 days, becoming the youngest person ever to win an Olympic gold medal. A multi-time national diving champion in the United States, she was given a second Olympic gold medal by the United States Olympic Committee after the 1940 Summer Olympics were called off due to World War II. She attempted to make an Olympic return at the 1948 Games but failed to qualify for the US team. She has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.

Diving career[edit]

Gestring won her first major title at the Amateur Athletic Union meeting at Chicago in 1936.[1]

In the tryouts for the 1936 Summer Olympics for the United States team, she placed second in qualifying in the 3-meter springboard event behind Katherine Rawls.[2] She became the youngest person ever to win an Olympic gold medal at the age of 13 years and 268 days,[3] in what was considered to be an upset considering the field in the final.[4] Her final dive won her the competition, and her rival Rawls greeted her as she left the pool, who had already recognised that the dive had given the Gold medal to Gestring instead of her.[5] The winning score was 89.27, while Rawls score was 88.35.[5] She was part of an all American top three in the final round, with Rawls winning silver in second place, and Dorothy Poynton-Hill winning bronze in third.[6] Rawls and Gestring were described as being in a "duel" for the gold medal, in front of the crowd of 15,000 spectators in Berlin.[7]

Following her Olympic victory, she competed in national championships in the run up to the following Games. She won the US national title for three meter springboard in both 1938 and 1939.[8] She also won the regional Far Western and Arizona State swimming championship in 1937.[9]

Despite the cancellation of the 1940 Summer Olympics due to World War II,[3] Gestring continued to compete at the national level within the United States. She was US National Women's High Diving Champion for 1939, and retained the title in 1940.[10] Also in 1940, retained the title for the 3m springboard.[11] A fellow diver of the same era, Margaret Ambrosia, stated that she would have expected Gestring to win the gold medal once more had the 1940 Olympic Games gone ahead. The United States Olympic Committee agreed when they handed out gold, silver and bronze medals in lieu of the Games taking place, as they gave the gold medal to Gestring.[12] She attempted to make the US team once more in the 1948 Summer Olympics, but did not qualify, finishing in fourth place in the team trials.[13]

Later life and legacy[edit]

Gestring died on 20 April 1992 after an accident in her home in Hillsborough, California.[14]

She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1976,[15] and the Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame.[16] Sports Illustrated listed Gestring for consideration when it chose California's Best Women Athlete, although Billie Jean King was chosen.[17] Her age record at the Olympics remains unbroken, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future as a minimum age of 14 years is now in place for athletes.[3]

Private life[edit]

At the age of 19, Gestring married University of California, Los Angeles, student Edward Carter in 1943.[18]


  1. ^ "Fair Swimmers to Seek Titles". The Evening Independent. 13 April 1937. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "1936 Olympic Tryout Results" (PDF). USA Swimming. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Scrivener, Peter (26 July 2008). "Olympic countdown - 13 days - Gestring's gold". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Eleanor Holm Jarrett Cracks World Record". The Milwaukee Journal. 5 April 1936. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Kaese, Harold (1938). Famous American Athletes of Today. Boston: L.C. Page. p. 224. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Does Better". Lawrence Journal-World. 12 August 1936. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Cameron, Stuart (12 August 1936). "Women Swimmers of America Win Diving and Take Lead". The Toledo News-Bee. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "Florida Swimming Star Retains 440-Yard Title". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 24 July 1938. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Marjorie Gestring Wins Diving Crown". Berkeley Daily Gazette. 13 September 1937. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "Marjorie Gestring Annexes Title in High Diving". Berkeley Daily Gazette. 16 September 1940. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Marjorie Gestring Wins National High Diving Title". San Jose Evening News. 16 September 1940. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Wojciaczyk, Stan (12 August 1984). "War kept her from the Olympics, but not from medal". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Marjorie Gestring". Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Harvey, Randy (11 May 1992). "'84 Olympic Flame Still Burns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Marjorie Gestring (USA)". International Swimming Hall of Fame. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Stanford Athletic Hall of Fame". Stanford Department of Athletics. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  17. ^ "California: Billie Jean King". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Milestones, Apr. 5, 1943". Time. 5 April 1943. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 

External links[edit]