Victoria “Vicki” Draves seemed to have been born to be on the water. As a fancy diver, she was married to her diving coach and appeared to be a natural talent. For many who watched the 1948 matches, it seemed to have the world at their feet.
But hers had been a story of struggle. The daughter of a Filipino father and an English mother, born and raised in San Francisco. She had only taken her first swimming lesson at the age of 10 and grew up in a home where money was tight. Swimming didn’t seem to be a priority, especially since his Asian American heritage led to racial discrimination. Draves was asked to hide his Filipino heritage and use Taylor’s mother’s name instead of his father’s Manalo.
It wasn’t until a diving coach persuaded her to try the sport at the age of 16 that her talent began to thrive. His first national title came in 1946 when he married his diving coach Lyle Draves.
Who Was Draves?
On December 31, 1924, Vicki Draves was born Victoria Taylor Manalo, a Filipino father, and an English mother. Even before she was born, racism settled in her life. While the interracial marriage of Manalo-Drave’s parents was “legal,” a California law of 1880. Now repealed, prohibited whites from marrying ethnic minority groups, including “Mongols,” but U.S. law could not determine whether Filipinos mattered. Their union has socially frowned upon her.
Manalo’s aunt, also English who married a Filipino, refused to give in to pressure to divorce her husband and, consequently, died in an elevator “accident.” A long-time friend of the family said in 2015: “I think it changed the dynamics of her childhood and from then on she was taught to look down and avoid other people’s gaze.” Growing up in San Francisco’s SOMA district, a young Manalo wanted to learn ballet. Since he could not afford the lessons, she started swimming in the saltwater meat grinder pool, where Manalo learned from the Red Cross from the mission.
Why is Vicki Draves Famous?
Draves excelled in platform diving, and in the 1948 games, she accumulated 68.87 points to win the platform event. In the springboard event, she scored 108.74 points to land just 0.51 points ahead of American Zoe Ann Olsen and win gold. She was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in 1969.
In 1948 he received gold medals on both the 3-meter trampoline and the 10-meter platform. A double discussed a lot but not often achieved. Draves was the first diver to accomplish this feat. She was also the first Asian American to win an Olympic medal. Naturally, the United States was happy. Their victories were so impressive that Life Magazine and decathlete Bob Mathias named them the top two athletes of the United States Games.
With her light smile and happy nature. Hollywood called Draves, but she preferred to stay by the water and became a feature in the family’s popular aquatic extravagance shows at the time. She toured the United States and Europe with Buster Crabbe’s “Aqua Parade”. But later settled with her husband to train young swimmers and divers.