By Chris MacDonald
The legendary McCormick Divers recently put on a special show to thank Long Beach officials, especially outgoing Councilman Gary DeLong, for their tremendous support.
Last year, when the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, home to McCormick Divers since 1968, was closed, the Long Beach City Council planned on replacing it with a recreational pool.
But hundreds of Olympic, World and National Champions and other diving enthusiasts insisted that diving must be included. As a result, Councilmen Gary DeLong and Patrick O'Donnell, did research and proposed a new world-class aquatics facility, which would include swimming, diving and water polo, to replace it.
"Diving is such a great part of Long Beach History," DeLong said. "There have been such terrific diving champions come from McCormick Divers that I'm thrilled a new aquatics pool should be ready in 2016-17."
"The new facility would not have happened without Gary and Patrick's support as well as Councilmember Gerri Schipske, City Manager Patrick West and Assistant City Manager Suzanne Frick," said Debby McCormick, wife of the late Glenn McCormick, who heads McCormick Divers. "The diving community really rallied to help make this happen, including Olympic Gold Medal Divers Greg Louganis and Dr. Sammy Lee.
Lee, 93, who coached Louganis, was in the audience of more than 60 supporters at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Pool, cheering on the next generation of champs.
McCormick Divers, who ranged in age from 5-18, showed their skills to an appreciative crowd, including coaches Charly Collins and Jackie Jones.
"Debby's such a wonderful coach. She really knows how and when to push them," said Patrick Gillogly and Suzanne Padilla of Long Beach, whose son, Nolan, 10, performed with grace. "The kids encourage each other and its a fantastic program."
"Diving is a small community and everyone knows McCormick Divers around the country," explained David Foster of Manhattan Beach, who was there to watch his son, Emmett, 12, perform.
A veteran of three years of gymnastics training, Emmett loves to dive and "he has to have his homework done before he can practice," according to dad. "The diving community is so supportive. You're really competing against yourself."
The camaraderie is easily seen and felt as McCormick Divers, their coaches and fans "cheer out" the best in everyone. You could see the glee on the faces of both divers and audience. Sammy Lee knows the future of diving is in good hands.
To find out more, contact McCormickDivers.com.