This series of posts about the history of fitness was inspired, in part, by the flurry of fitness activities that start up at the beginning of the year as people try to act on their New Year’s resolutions. Another inspiration came from my own family.
Family lore was that my mother was a champion diver. I hoped my fitness research would uncover some information about her diving. Of course, when tracking down this kind of information it would help to have something to pin point the time period; was she a child or young adult? Place would also be helpful; Canada or England? All I really have to go on is that she acknowledged the statement that she was a diving champion, which was why she was disappointed that her kids weren’t fond of the water.
Swimming and diving were sports women had been competing in since the 1880s. By the time that my mother would have been of competing age, there would have been a variety of local championships for women and girls to vie for. Also, amateur sports shows were popular entertainment in the interwar years. Aquatic exhibitions offered scope for swimmers and divers to show off their skills and many of the young women were billed as champions of English counties. Was it that kind of championship?
Will research uncover anything further? It is hard to say. It is strange, though, that I can’t remember ever seeing my mother dive, or swim. So I can’t attest to her ability myself. But, those were the days when you could tell a person’s age by the way that they dressed and by extension, by the way that they acted. By the time that I can remember her, diving no longer fit into my mother’s life.
Gregson, Keith. Sporting Ancestors: Tracing Your Family’s Athletic Past. The History Press, Brimscombe Post Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2012
Hargreaves, Jennifer. Sporting Females: Critical Issues in the History and Sociology of Women’s Sport. Routledge, 2002