Helen Crlenkovich

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Helen Crlenkovich (Croatian: Crljenković[1]) (Columbus, Ohio, June 14, 1921 - Burbank, California, July 19, 1955) was one of the most successful athletes in America and the world on the three-meter springboard and the ten-meter platform. She was an American-born Croatian lovingly known as "Klinky." Her both parents are from Croatia: mother Anka Tomin is from Petrijevci,[1][2] and father Adam from Banićevac[1] near Cernik.


Her best sports years began in the late 1930s. She not only became the best American, but also the world springboard and platform diving champion. She was the first female to do a full-twisting 1½ somersault, also the 2½ tuck, back 1½ layout, inward 1½ pike and reverse 1½ tuck,[3] dives that were heretofore only achieved by men. Helen was chosen to represent America in the 1940 Olympic Games. All concerned felt that Helen would achieve two gold medals as a minimum. However, because of the onset of the Second World War, the games were cancelled. 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 was honored by being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1981,[3] the Helms Diving Hall of Fame[4] and the San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame.[5] She won more consistently and by greater margins than any woman diver.[3] 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.[3] In September 2008, Helen received post-mortem recognition by the World Acrobatic Congress held in Las Vegas for her life achievements in swimming and diving.[1] She died of cancer.


  1. ^ a b c d Čuvalo, Ante. "Helen Crlenkovich renowned Croatian - American springboard diver". Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Matching passenger records Anka Tomin". Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "HELEN CRLENKOVICH (USA) 1981 Honor Diver". Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ Davis, Bruce. "NEWSLETTER". Retrieved June 9, 2010. 
  5. ^ "San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame Members" (PDF). Retrieved June 9, 2010. 

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