Legacies Project Oral History: Dick Kimball
Dick Kimball was born in 1935 in Rochester, Minnesota. He was the Minnesota high school diving champion four years in a row, and he also excelled in gymnastics, trampoline, and cheerleading. At the University of Michigan, he was the NCAA springboard champion in 1957, and in 1963 he was the Professional World Diving champion. Kimball coached the University of Michigan diving team for 43 years, and several U.S. Olympic diving teams. He has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.
Dick Kimball was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2018 as part of the Legacies Project.
- [00:00:09.18] INTERVIEWER 1: Please say and spell your name.
- [00:00:13.14] RICHARD KIMBALL: Richard Kimball. R-I-C-H-A-R-D K-I-M-B-A-L-L.
- [00:00:18.99] INTERVIEWER 1: What is your birth date, including the year?
- [00:00:22.71] RICHARD KIMBALL: May 14, 1935.
- [00:00:25.74] INTERVIEWER 1: How would you describe your ethnic background?
- [00:00:28.74] RICHARD KIMBALL: My one grandmother was born in Ireland, and the other one in Austria. So pretty much they were first generation.
- [00:00:42.44] INTERVIEWER 1: What is your religious affiliation, if any?
- [00:00:45.53] RICHARD KIMBALL: Catholic
- [00:00:47.40] INTERVIEWER 1: What is the highest level of formal education you have completed?
- [00:00:51.86] RICHARD KIMBALL: A masters degree.
- [00:00:54.93] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you attend any additional school or formal career training beyond what you completed?
- [00:01:00.84] RICHARD KIMBALL: No.
- [00:01:02.52] INTERVIEWER 1: What is your marital status?
- [00:01:04.83] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I was married 56 years, and my wife passed away last May 1.
- [00:01:12.19] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you have any children?
- [00:01:13.96] RICHARD KIMBALL: Three children.
- [00:01:15.82] INTERVIEWER 1: How many siblings do you have, if any?
- [00:01:19.46] RICHARD KIMBALL: Three
- [00:01:23.29] INTERVIEWER 1: What would you consider your primary occupation to have been?
- [00:01:28.10] RICHARD KIMBALL: Diving coach for 43 years.
- [00:01:31.50] INTERVIEWER 1: At what age did you retire?
- [00:01:34.07] RICHARD KIMBALL: I retired at 76, I think it was.
- [00:01:39.83] INTERVIEWER 1: All right. So now, we're going to begin the first part of our interview.
- [00:01:43.80] RICHARD KIMBALL: OK.
- [00:01:45.04] INTERVIEWER 1: Beginning with some of the things that you recall about your family history. Do you know any stories about your family name?
- [00:01:52.34] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yes, pretty much. One of my nieces did a complete history, and made up a book. So I just looked at that when I was busy, my sister in Minnesota.
- [00:02:06.81] INTERVIEWER 1: Are there any naming traditions in your family?
- [00:02:10.59] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't think so, not to my knowledge.
- [00:02:15.42] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you know why your ancestors left to come to the United States, if anything?
- [00:02:20.10] RICHARD KIMBALL: I would assume probably for religious reasons.
- [00:02:25.82] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you know any stories about how your family first came to the United States, and where they first settled?
- [00:02:33.54] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yes, They first settled in Wisconsin.
- [00:02:37.96] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you know how they got here?
- [00:02:40.20] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't know that. It might be in that book my niece did because I haven't really looked at it carefully.
- [00:02:49.20] INTERVIEWER 1: How did they make a living in an old country or in the United states?
- [00:02:54.18] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, my grandparents on my mom's side, he was a doctor. And his wife worked with herbs and stuff. And that's how my mother went to Minnesota for nurse's training school in Rochester, Minnesota.
- [00:03:15.59] INTERVIEWER 1: And can describe any family migration once they arrived in the United States? And how they became to live in this area?
- [00:03:22.97] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, my father lived in Minnesota, and he met my mother when she was in nurse's training school. And then they lived in Rochester all their life.
- [00:03:39.71] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you know which family members came along or stayed behind?
- [00:03:45.28] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, there were 11 kids in the family. And it's a little teeny town in Wisconsin with 64 people. And there's a Catholic church, and a Catholic school. There were 64 people in this little town. I assume they probably had other small towns that came to the school.
- [00:04:08.39] INTERVIEWER 1: To your knowledge, did they make an effort to preserve any traditions or customs from their country of origin?
- [00:04:14.24] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think they probably had a lot of things. They had a bar there. And my grandfather was a postmaster of that little town.
- [00:04:27.67] INTERVIEWER 1: Are there any traditions that your family has given up or changed?
- [00:04:31.16] RICHARD KIMBALL: Not to my knowledge.
- [00:04:34.10] INTERVIEWER 1: What stories have come down to you about your parents and grandparents, or more distant ancestors?
- [00:04:39.36] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, my father, his last job is a brakeman on the railroad. As a youngster though, he was a motorcycle hill climber, and did shows and stuff, standing on the seat of a motorcycle.
- [00:04:58.36] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you know how your parents or grandparents or other relatives came to meet and marry?
- [00:05:05.58] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't know much about my one grandfather. He lives in upper Minnesota. And there's a little information about him, but not much. But my mother, I know a lot about her side of the family because she came to train for nurse's training in Minnesota, and met my father there.
- [00:05:31.66] INTERVIEWER 1: So we'll move on to your childhood. Where did you grow up and what are your strongest memories of that place?
- [00:05:39.09] RICHARD KIMBALL: I grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, where the Mayo Clinic is. And I went to a Catholic school for up until third grade. And then switched over to the public school, and continued there because Catholic school didn't have swimming and diving I was a diver and stuff. And my high school coach brought me into dive in high school when I was in sixth grade.
- [00:06:10.36] INTERVIEWER 1: What are your strongest memories of growing up?
- [00:06:12.85] INTERVIEWER 2: Let's take a little break. [INAUDIBLE]
- [00:06:17.61] RICHARD KIMBALL: Why does a bell ring?
- [00:06:18.98] INTERVIEWER 1: Yeah, for lunch.
- [00:06:19.86] INTERVIEWER 3: It's for lunch though [INAUDIBLE]
- [00:06:22.40] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yeah.
- [00:06:24.49] INTERVIEWER 1: So what were your strongest memories like growing up?
- [00:06:27.77] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, one kind of important one was when I was in fourth grade. They get the man to test, and I showed that I had lesions of TB in both lungs. And so that was a traumatic experience.
- [00:06:47.43] INTERVIEWER 1: What was your house like?
- [00:06:49.23] RICHARD KIMBALL: Very small. In Rochester, Minnesota, they have some hilly areas. And that's where all the doctors live, commonly called Pill Hill. And I was on the other end of that Rochester's laid out where Broadway, and then the avenues run off and Center Street, the streets run off. So you can find any place in town really easily. And so it was easy to get around just by the address.
- [00:07:21.18] INTERVIEWER 1: How many people live in your house?
- [00:07:23.34] RICHARD KIMBALL: There were actually four children. My youngest sister is 11 years younger than me, and three of us were-- My older brother is three years older. My sister is younger than four. We're in a very small house with only two bedrooms. And when we were growing up, we had an outhouse. We didn't have a bathroom in our house. So you can imagine going out 20 below zero. You're not really excited about going out to the bathroom.
- [00:07:59.00] INTERVIEWER 1: What was your relationship like with your family?
- [00:08:02.53] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, we did a lot of things together. And we moved to Wisconsin to my grandmother's almost every summer. And it was a close-knit family. I was real close to my father because the older two didn't like going with him in places because he was an alcoholic, and he had ended up in a bar or something. So I learned a lot of patience when I was young.
- [00:08:33.41] INTERVIEWER 1: Different languages spoken in different setting such as--
- [00:08:36.74] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, my mother spoke German because her whole family was from Austria. And they taught a lot in German, so she spoke German.
- [00:08:51.33] INTERVIEWER 1: So what was that like for you? Did you catch on or--
- [00:08:54.21] RICHARD KIMBALL: We got a pretty good history of the background. And we went to visit very often, like at holidays and stuff. It wasn't that far away. There's about a four-hour drive to Wisconsin where they lived.
- [00:09:12.02] INTERVIEWER 1: What was your family like when you were a child?
- [00:09:15.64] RICHARD KIMBALL: It was pretty close-knit. And it was a little different because I went to the public school, and my brother and sister went to Catholic school. And when it came time for going to high school, I went to a combined high school, junior high and senior high together. So it turned out to be very fortunate for me because as a seventh grader, I, could compete on the varsity swimming team and diving team. Where if the junior high wasn't with high school, you couldn't do that. But because they were both in the same building and stuff, I got to start diving when I was in seventh grade.
- [00:09:56.40] INTERVIEWER 1: So how come you and your brothers and sisters went to separate schools, like they went to a Catholic school?
- [00:10:01.56] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, because the Catholic school didn't have swimming in their program.
- [00:10:07.42] INTERVIEWER 1: What sort of work did your father and mother do?
- [00:10:11.07] RICHARD KIMBALL: My father worked on cars. He was also a mechanic for airplanes at one point. But the job I remember most, he was a brakeman on the railroad, which there's a [? people and ?] couple of cars together, and operate trains and stuff. And they travel in the caboose of a train, so that's the job I remember most of him.
- [00:10:37.69] INTERVIEWER 1: What about your mother?
- [00:10:38.96] RICHARD KIMBALL: My mother was a nurse and oddly enough, the kids of nurses and doctors probably get the worst training because it's, "Oh, you're all right. You can go to school." So we haven't ever got to miss a day of school.
- [00:10:55.11] INTERVIEWER 1: You know where your mother was a nurse that?
- [00:10:57.61] RICHARD KIMBALL: She was a nurse at a couple of the hospitals in Rochester. And while we were in school, she was working at the Mayo Clinic. And so she would work 3:30 to 11:30. But most the time she worked 11:30 to 7:30 shift, so she come home and fix breakfast, and then go to bed. She would fix breakfast for us and sends off to school.
- [00:11:26.86] INTERVIEWER 2: Can you repeat that?
- [00:11:28.03] INTERVIEWER 1: Yes.
- [00:11:28.40] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yeah.
- [00:11:28.83] INTERVIEWER 3: Look down.
- [00:11:31.49] RICHARD KIMBALL: When my mom was a nurse, she used to work a shift that she could come home in the morning and feed us breakfast, and then we go to school. And she worked at the Mayo Clinic because her hours were regular there, and she was a private duty nurse. And nowadays, there are no private duty nurses anymore. But she went on trips sometimes with patients when they went back to their home setting.
- [00:12:03.60] INTERVIEWER 1: What's your earliest memory of your childhood?
- [00:12:07.89] RICHARD KIMBALL: Probably going to the lake. There's a lake in Rochester, Minnesota. And at that time, they had like a beach. And my dad was working on WPA during the depression. And so he would take us swimming every day down at the pool or the lake. And so that was our exposure that going every day.
- [00:12:34.41] INTERVIEWER 1: What was a typical day like for you in your pre-school years?
- [00:12:38.43] RICHARD KIMBALL: Pretty much getting up, my mom getting us off to school. And then I never ate for lunch at the cafeteria. I always walk home. From the grade school, I was in Lincoln Grade School. And my brother and sister went to St. John's Catholic school, and then on to Lourdes. And I went to Rochester High School.
- [00:13:05.62] INTERVIEWER 1: So how about before you were in school, what would you do every day?
- [00:13:10.54] RICHARD KIMBALL: I would go with my dad a lot of times. And he knew the whole area of Minnesota, and took us all kinds of places, to different lakes, to swim and stuff, and knew the whole area there.
- [00:13:29.78] INTERVIEWER 1: What did you do for fun?
- [00:13:31.91] RICHARD KIMBALL: We'd go to the park. And it was very close to our high school. And they used to practice in the park that we go to every day. They had slides, and we'd play softball. We just choose up teams, and play softball down there.
- [00:13:52.82] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you have a favorite toy, or game, a book?
- [00:13:57.05] RICHARD KIMBALL: I would say we had a lot of trucks, and things like that back then.
- [00:14:05.15] INTERVIEWER 1: How about any books? Do you remember a--
- [00:14:06.96] RICHARD KIMBALL: Books, my mom used to read books to us.
- [00:14:10.08] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you remember a specific one that--
- [00:14:12.56] RICHARD KIMBALL: Not really. And my father-- because he only had a fifth grade education. So I'm sure that was difficult to deal with when he was growing up. And then you can imagine it would be like with a fifth grade education, being married, and stuff like that.
- [00:14:33.33] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any special days or events, or family traditions, that you remember from?
- [00:14:37.77] RICHARD KIMBALL: We used to go Christmas vacation to my grandmother's, grandfather's house in Wisconsin. And we did a lot of stuff together there. I can remember working on puzzles. Everybody in the family would put in pieces and stuff.
- [00:14:58.34] INTERVIEWER 1: What were your family gatherings usually like?
- [00:15:01.55] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, a lot of [? us ?] around the Catholic church and stuff, when we were young. And my grandmother and grandfather-- My grandmother went to church every day. And they thought that she died when I took her to Minnesota. I picked her up one time, and drove her to Minnesota. I was on my way home from Michigan in college.
- [00:15:34.39] INTERVIEWER 1: We'll take a break.
- [00:15:35.85] INTERVIEWER 1: But they were very significant in my life, my grandparents. And they had a store. And he was the postmaster. I remember going over, and we'd put out the mail on a thing and when the train went through, the train would pick it up. He had an arm stuck out and picked up the mail. So and then one of my aunts took over postmaster after my grandfather died.
- [00:16:05.76] INTERVIEWER 2: Does anybody want--
- [00:16:08.68] INTERVIEWER 1: So now, we'll move on to your youth. Did you go to preschool?
- [00:16:14.89] RICHARD KIMBALL: I didn't go to preschool, not to my knowledge.
- [00:16:18.64] INTERVIEWER 1: What about kindergarten?
- [00:16:20.18] RICHARD KIMBALL: Kindergarten, I went to kindergarten at the Lincoln Elementary School. And when I went up there for my 50th anniversary, reunion for high school, we had a kindergarten reunion at the Lincoln School.
- [00:16:35.23] INTERVIEWER 1: What about elementary school?
- [00:16:37.78] RICHARD KIMBALL: Elementary school was there also, up to sixth grade and seventh grade. Started junior high school.
- [00:16:44.08] INTERVIEWER 1: What do you remember most about elementary school?
- [00:16:48.25] RICHARD KIMBALL: I remember going back and forth to school with all my buddies. There was a bridge, and it had a railing about that thing. And we just try to walk across this railing. Every once in a while, somebody fell on the creek, which was about 10 feet below. And we used to see the first one who could get across the creek. And the first time the ice froze, then many of us fell in the creek trying to do that. But it really the first freezing is very strong. And even though it's very thin, we try and walk across there.
- [00:17:25.30] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you ever fall on the creek?
- [00:17:26.41] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yes, I did. I get my boots full of water.
- [00:17:31.96] INTERVIEWER 1: What do you remember most about high school?
- [00:17:34.30] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, my high school coach because he brought me in fifth grade. I was his first seventh grade letterman in his coaching career. He was a guy from Sweden, and came over here when he was 13 years old. And he didn't die until he was 97 years old. He's still driving, but very successful coach. And he went to Wisconsin State Teachers College. And he was a track guy and a swimmer, but had no contact with diving. And he had 24 years of state champions in diving.
- [00:18:12.70] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you go to school beyond high school?
- [00:18:15.16] RICHARD KIMBALL: I did. I went my freshman year in college I went to Oklahoma, and was a cheerleader there. Freshman were ineligible back then. They didn't start making freshman eligible in college until the war when everybody was in the military. So to have more people in athletics, they opened up the freshman. Then while I was in school, it was a time period for freshmen were not eligible. They had freshman competition, but no varsity competition. So when I was at Oklahoma, I set out a year as a freshman. And then when I transferred to Michigan, I had to set out another year. Now, if you can get permission [? releasing, ?] they can be eligible immediately as freshman when they transfer. So I'd set out another year up here.
- [00:19:06.62] INTERVIEWER 1: What's your favorite college memory?
- [00:19:10.36] RICHARD KIMBALL: Probably when I went to the national championship up at Yale. Back then, there was AAU competition. And I went up there, and that was my first time going to a national meet. And it was successful in the end. And the Michigan diving coach was there, and saw me dive. And he used to dive up in Minneapolis in the [INAUDIBLE]. So I saw me dive up there, and that's where they recruited me to Michigan. That's when he saw me dive.
- [00:19:43.57] INTERVIEWER 1: What was the popular music when you were growing up?
- [00:19:47.92] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't know. It was all different kinds of music. And I wasn't into music very much. And one of my sons was a drummer. So he was actually in Germany, went to [? Ireland ?] with his band. He was in five different bands. And he got to go to Australia, and New Zealand, and to Europe and stuff, with his band.
- [00:20:14.00] INTERVIEWER 1: So you don't have a favorite song or anything?
- [00:20:18.05] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I knew all the songs because I was a cheerleader in high school in senior year. And I was a cheerleader at Oklahoma. And Oklahoma, 500 girls tried out for cheerleading. And they had a thing in this stadium, and they had to present a cheer. And then do it, and they judged her. And one boy and one girl were picked from each of the different ages, and so they had cheerleaders. His sister was the other cheerleader as a freshman. And she was Miss Oklahoma the next year, when she was in junior or sophomore. But I got to know them real well. And we traveled to the different locations for the away games.
- [00:21:13.18] They were living in the panhandle of Oklahoma. And so we went up there in Thanksgiving, then went up to Kansas for the football game. And we went to Texas and cheered on the Baker Hotel. They had a place up there outdoor, patio. And back then, Dallas was a dry place, but all of the people would have paper bags over their bottle stuff. And the University of Oklahoma was dry also. No alcohol sold in Norman, Oklahoma. Norman, Oklahoma is like 20 miles from Oklahoma City. And we used to go up there, take a cab up there, to movie and stuff.
- [00:22:04.81] So it was very interesting freshman year in Oklahoma. We had competition down at SMU in Dallas with Oklahoma freshmen. So we did some traveling when I was a freshman. And then I went to the nationals up in Yale, which was really the first time I ever flew on a plane.
- [00:22:33.94] Then the second time I flew on a plane was when I was at Michigan. And I was picked to go on a trip with a group of eight synchronized swimmers and another Michigan diver. And we went to Hawaii from-- San Francisco to Hawaii was it nine hours on military transport. We were going to go do shows at all their bases in Japan, and the Philippines, and Korea. So we had to go to all those places and do shows at the bases.
- [00:23:09.60] And the girls range from 13 to 25. And their 25-year-old is sacral national champion. And the other girls were all made up of a synchro team from California. And we met them down in Houston, where they had the national championships. Then we flew to San Francisco. And we got to visit all over San Francisco, and went to the Fleishhacker Zoo. And I later dived into meet out there on the national championships when I was a senior at Michigan. And I, through diving, pretty much got to see the world.
- [00:23:55.34] Went on a trip around the world in 1960, a goodwill tour. And we did worked with all the athletes in Japan, and the Philippines. Trade in our first class tickets, and went around the world. But traveling with a military air transport, you fly face in the back. You don't fly face in the front. Supposedly, that's safer. And doing shows at all the bases.
- [00:24:22.54] We flew all over Korea in a banana-shaped helicopter, and did shows. We did one right up across from North Korea. The cannon was facing South Korea. They were marching back and forth in the demilitarized zone. So we got to see some things that we don't normally see, and be on a base right across North Korea.
- [00:24:47.20] INTERVIEWER 1: So what made you want to do cheerleading?
- [00:24:50.44] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, because I tumbled and stuff when I was a diver. So I just tried out my senior year. And then I went as cheerleader at Oklahoma, and a cheerleader for five years in Michigan because it's kind of closely related to diving, and trampoline, and stuff. We had trampolets in an all-male squad in Michigan. At Oklahoma, there were mixed squad, but Michigan was all men back when I was a cheerleader.
- [00:25:22.95] They didn't have girl cheerleaders here until 1972. Before that, it was all-male cheerleaders. And all of them were gymnasts, and divers, and stuff. And we'd do over 10 people. We do a somersault of 10 people, and do like front somersault, 1 and 1/2 twist. Back somersault, full twist out of trampolets. And we had them face facing each other. So one person would do a lower somersault, the other do a high one.
- [00:25:49.66] And it was really fun tumbling. We tumble across the field doing backhand springs, and stuff.
- [00:25:58.25] INTERVIEWER 1: So when you're doing cheers, what were the routines like with the music?
- [00:26:05.39] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, we did stuff with the band. And we also did a lot of things where we did back hand springs in Michigan. But in high school, I had to do back handsprings. And I taught one of the girls how to do a back handspring. So we did a lot of cheers that you can do with acrobatics.
- [00:26:26.01] INTERVIEWER 1: What were the popular clothing or hairstyles?
- [00:26:29.94] RICHARD KIMBALL: Most of the kids wore a fairly short hair. And there was a dress code, but everybody wore Levi's real low. And we had a dress code in high school sophomore.
- [00:26:45.49] INTERVIEWER 1: Remember a favorite brand, or anything that you like to wear?
- [00:26:49.44] RICHARD KIMBALL: Back then, we had the real low Levi's type of clothes. If you want a [? leather, ?] you got a sweater with R on there. They were called the Rochester Rockets. And then you also wore a lot of the school clothing and stuff too.
- [00:27:22.06] INTERVIEWER 1: Can you describe any other fads or styles from [INTERPOSING VOICES]
- [00:27:26.48] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't remember that. But I remember, I really liked black licorice, and few people eat that. But there was a little store right across from the Catholic school. I used to stop and buy licorice on the way home from practice. One day, my mother went into the store and bought licorice, and they said, "Oh, you must be Mrs. Kimball." Because that was something I had.
- [00:27:51.80] And the high school coach used to bring us back for work also at night during a public swim. So that we now have to dodge the swimmers. But most of the practices, you didn't have to look back, and do your dive without hitting somebody in the water.
- [00:28:09.35] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any phrases or words that you used then, that are common now?
- [00:28:14.81] RICHARD KIMBALL: I'm sure we did. But one thing we did was back then, if you in physical education class or on the team, nobody wore suits. They all swam naked, and dive naked, and stuff. And that was didn't break for a long, long time. Even at Michigan, at noon hour, they have a faculty swim, they don't wear suits when they swim either.
- [00:28:43.61] And at Michigan, in the original pool in the intermural building, which was the first intermural building in the country, they had a wall that goes up between the gym and the pool. They would put bleachers up there for the meets. There were three sets of bleachers in the pool, and the rest would then bring the wall up. And you'd watch meet from the gym next door.
- [00:29:12.61] Back then, gymnastics had one big gym, and then the pool was right next door. They have a gigantic gym on the other side of the intermural building, which is gigantic. back then, the girls had to be in by 10 o'clock. So everybody will be out there, making out with their date. Everybody run for the door at 10 o'clock.
- [00:29:37.54] And one day a year, they had a thing called J-Hop. And it was in the big gym. And they had two bands there that alternated playing, and the girls could stay out till 2 o'clock. That was the one time in the year the girls could stay up past 10 o'clock. When I was at Oklahoma, the girls had to be in by 9:30. If they had like a panty raid, they would go after the girls. Dorms are all up on the hill by the hospital, and everybody stay to the hill. They go and trying to sneak in the girls dorms.
- [00:30:18.71] You couldn't go in a girl's rooms at all. You had to stay out in the lounge, and pick your date up there. We're not allowed up in there. But now, all the dorms are coed, except for one, on State Street, across from the Newhall. It's still all-girls. So there's one that was up on the hill that was commonly referred to as a virgin vault. The one girls dorm know was left up there.
- [00:30:48.06] INTERVIEWER 1: What's a typical day like for you? Do college--
- [00:30:51.77] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, in high school, I never ate at the thing I'd walk home. And it's probably about a 20-minute walk. And walking up there-- I never miss a day of school, when I was in high school, because if you miss then you can't go to practice. So I always went to school.
- [00:31:13.31] And when I was in eighth grade, I had polio before the polio vaccine. I was in isolation for two weeks, and nobody could come and visit, my mother, my dad, or anybody. Back in 1948, it was a gigantic academic for polio. And a lot of pools were closed because they didn't really know what was going on. I'm sure I had it the worst during the summer because I had a really bad stiff neck when I was diving. But I kept diving all summer.
- [00:31:50.40] And then just started school, they did a spinal tap to see if I had polio. They stick a needle about that long in your spinal column. And drip drippings to see if you have polio. And I had polio. So they put me in isolation. And anything you brought in had to be in a steam thing before you could take it out. And all the people that were there besides me had polio, and were paralyzed.
- [00:32:20.48] But I was doing somersaults on the bed, all kinds of things. And I could hear the bell ring when my mom drop something, so I'll sneak out of my bed and look out to see her. But that was two weeks. When I was in eighth grade, and I later had this shot for polio, and probably things you've never heard such vaccine.
- [00:32:47.51] Dr. Francis, who did all of the flu shots and all the flu study, he trained here Michigan. Salk did under Dr. Francis, who was the first guy to develop the flu vaccine. And when Russia asked for the polio vaccine, Dr. Francis took it over to Salk. But Salk then went to California, and that's when he got the prize for the polio vaccine. And you are profiting by that.
- [00:33:20.15] Polio was almost eliminated. But now, some of the foreign countries are having trouble with polio.
- [00:33:28.82] INTERVIEWER 1: Besides swimming and gymnastics, and cheer, what else did you do for fun?
- [00:33:33.99] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I was in football when I was in ninth grade. Rugby team would play some of the bigger, smallest places, small towns around Rochester. And we'd play there A-team, the B-team at Rochester [? did. ?] And that was one thing I did then. In track, I was the eighth grade letterman. In diving, I was a seventh grade letterman.
- [00:34:00.71] So I ran the high hurdles. And most people do three steps between hurdles, I did five steps. Then the next year, I had to switch legs into four steps because I was bigger. And I ran track through high school.
- [00:34:19.88] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any special days or events that you remember from that time?
- [00:34:23.90] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yeah because I was a seventh grade letterman. I went to all the different cities around Rochester. And the biggest trip was up to Minneapolis, which was about two hours up there. And the State Meet was up there, and stuff. And the divers, I went up early because when someone gets there underneath the [? boarders, ?] you can't get much practice. And so my aunt lived up there so I go up there a couple days early, and stay with her.
- [00:34:53.90] And then the State Meet was up there. And when I was in seventh grade, the seniors on my team would take me by the arms and legs, and spin me up, and land flat in the water, and stuff. And when we were up in Minneapolis, the older guys on the team took me, tried to sneak me on this burlesque show. And they were holding me up to make me look bigger because I wasn't that very big. I think I weighed about 70 pounds, and was on the team.
- [00:35:28.79] I got to know all the older guys on the team. So I had a lot [? ahead of ?] seventh grade people. But I remember, my first girlfriend was in seventh grade. And we used to call the phone back then. And we did have a couple dates, but not much. And we'd go to the swimming pool, and stuff like that.
- [00:35:57.35] And my sister was 11 years younger, so I would ride my bike to the pool, and put her on the handlebars. And I took her, and walked her to school every day, and stuff like that. So I got a real good experience with working with babies and stuff because my mom went back to work.
- [00:36:14.75] And when I was up in Minnesota last weekend for my reunion, I stayed with my younger sister. And my brother and sister, my brother was a boxer in high school. And he played football and stuff. And so I used to go to his football games and stuff. Because of the clinic, it's so prominent in Rochester. Especially now, Rochester is the third largest city in the state of Minnesota, which was about 156,000. But it used to be smaller than Ann Arbor.
- [00:36:52.07] So that the guy that greeted people at the clinic, if they came back 10 years later, he remembers who they were and stuff. So it was really significant. And that clinic was like 20 stories. And now, it's just door with the other high rise things in Rochester. And everything back then was kind of controlled by the Mayo Clinic.
- [00:37:16.55] Oddly enough, my whole time in school there were no black students in the whole school system. And there was only one hotel that they could go to. But there were lots, and there were like 15,000 floating population in Rochester because of the Mayo Clinic. And the new coach here, that's coaching and diving, his wife is from Rochester, Minnesota, was also a diver. And met her husband out in California USC.
- [00:37:48.50] And she studied medical field, and did her PhD last year at USC. And her dad's a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. A lot of my friends, their daughters and sons went to Rochester High School. And their dads are doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
- [00:38:16.27] INTERVIEWER 1: I think we [INTERPOSING VOICES]
- [00:38:17.45] RICHARD KIMBALL: That was a big part. I hated to go to the Mayo Clinic and sit by the patients, waiting for my mom to get off work as a nurse. Just because I felt like I don't want to be at the hospital.
- [00:38:32.24] INTERVIEWER 1: [INAUDIBLE] I guess we'll stop right here.
- [00:38:39.12] INTERVIEWER 1: So to the best of your ability, look [INAUDIBLE] camera. You can call for a break at any time that you one. You can decline to answer any question, or to end the interview at any point. We're going to continue with the youth and family life. So did your family have any special sayings or expressions during this time. [INAUDIBLE]
- [00:39:00.30] RICHARD KIMBALL: Nothing I remember, really. My mom was pretty much the one that controlled everything. She was a nurse. And would work the night shift, actually from 11:30 to 7:30 so she could feed us breakfast, and go to work. Or the other way, she work all night and come home.
- [00:39:19.11] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any changes in your family life during your school years?
- [00:39:23.03] RICHARD KIMBALL: No, not really. Except that I switched from the Catholic school to public school because primarily, they don't have swimming or diving at the Catholic school.
- [00:39:34.05] INTERVIEWER 1: Which holidays did your family celebrate?
- [00:39:36.50] RICHARD KIMBALL: They pretty much celebrated everything. A lot of times we go to my grandmother's, grandfather's house at Christmas.
- [00:39:44.39] INTERVIEWER 1: Does your family created any of your own traditions of celebration?
- [00:39:49.61] RICHARD KIMBALL: Not really. Pretty much all of the holidays we celebrated.
- [00:39:55.58] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you have any special foods, any food traditions?
- [00:40:01.11] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, there were a lot of food traditions that came from my mom's side of the family, in terms of they owned a store. And we'd go there, we used to sneak out, and get candy out of store and stuff.
- [00:40:15.12] INTERVIEWER 1: Have any recipes been preserved or passed down in your family for generations?
- [00:40:19.29] RICHARD KIMBALL: No.
- [00:40:21.12] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you wish that there were some recipes passed down that [INAUDIBLE]
- [00:40:27.78] RICHARD KIMBALL: We don't use any of them, but there are a lot of special ones they had.
- [00:40:34.50] INTERVIEWER 1: Are there any family stories connected to the preparation of special foods?
- [00:40:39.23] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yeah, my grandmother was a great cook. And she did a lot of special things like dumplings and stuff, potato dumplings, which I'd never had since my mom died.
- [00:40:53.42] INTERVIEWER 1: When thinking back in your school years, what important social or historical events were taking place at the time?
- [00:41:01.21] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, when I was really young, before I even went to school, that was during the end of The Depression. And my dad was working on a WPA, which was a good thing for people that didn't have jobs. He would end at noon, and take a swim at the lake. So we should do that every day.
- [00:41:23.68] INTERVIEWER 1: How did the events did they personally affect you at all?
- [00:41:29.20] RICHARD KIMBALL: Not that I can remember. I mean, except for being able to do things with my father during the afternoon, after he got off work.
- [00:41:39.97] INTERVIEWER 1: So now we'll move on to adulthood, the marriage, and family life.
- [00:41:43.28] RICHARD KIMBALL: OK.
- [00:41:45.76] INTERVIEWER 1: This covers a pretty long period of your life, from the time you completed your education, and in the labor force, or starting a family until all your children left home. After you finish high school, where did you move?
- [00:41:59.93] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I went to Oklahoma for a year on scholarship, to dive, and then transferred to Michigan after one year. It wasn't I didn't like Oklahoma, I was a cheerleader there. And back then, freshmen were not eligible, and set out your freshman year. That rule change when everybody was in the service. They didn't have enough people to fill the team so they open up for freshman.
- [00:42:29.38] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you remain in Michigan, or did you move around through your working adult life?
- [00:42:33.34] RICHARD KIMBALL: I remained in Michigan. I graduated, and the next day, I started coaching.
- [00:42:40.55] INTERVIEWER 1: We'll move on to married life.
- [00:42:42.51] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yes.
- [00:42:44.83] INTERVIEWER 1: I'd like you to tell me a little about your married and family life. Tell me about your spouse. Where and when did you meet?
- [00:42:52.45] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, we met actually at-- I think it was put on at the Hill Auditorium by the band. And it was a talent contest. And my partner and I did a trampoline exhibition. She was one of the people in the contest, and she sang. And that's when I first met her, but I didn't date her for another year.
- [00:43:15.97] INTERVIEWER 1: What was it like when you were dating?
- [00:43:18.46] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, back then, the dormitories, the girls had to be in by 10 o'clock. So it was a little different nowadays. They didn't have coed housing, and stuff like that. You weren't allowed on the upper floor. You could only be in the lounge. And things are totally different now.
- [00:43:41.96] INTERVIEWER 1: Tell me about your engagement.
- [00:43:44.36] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, we met in the fall of that year. She was a freshman, and I was a junior. And so we got married that May, and then my daughter was born the next year. Back then, I went on a State Department [? goodwill ?] tour to Japan, the Philippines. And we did shows in all the bases. And we worked with the kids in Japan and the Philippines.
- [00:44:19.37] And we'll trade in our first class tickets, and flew around the world. So I [? still had ?] my [? daughter-- ?] because my wife was pregnant. She went around the world, she just didn't remember it.
- [00:44:32.06] INTERVIEWER 1: What was your wedding like?
- [00:44:33.98] RICHARD KIMBALL: It was at the chapel, the Catholic chapel on campus. And it was primarily all men because all the swimmers back then, there was no women in the team. So there's a few of my wife's friends, and then mostly, my friends from the swimming background.
- [00:44:54.21] INTERVIEWER 1: Tell me about your children. And what life was like when they were young, and living in the house.
- [00:44:58.61] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, my daughter was the first one. And then my oldest son, Bruce, he was involved in diving, and so is my daughter. And then the youngest son. They were about 2 and 1/2 years apart. Bruce was the second, and Jim was the third one. And they all were involved in my sports. I saw them every day. They go to high school, and dive. And then come dive with me in Michigan.
- [00:45:30.54] INTERVIEWER 1: What was one of your favorite memories with them when they were growing before so--
- [00:45:35.15] RICHARD KIMBALL: We back up to Dicken School, so we have the whole playground in our backyard. And going out there, and playing different sports for the kids. And then coming to the pool every day. It was ideal for them. They knew the pool just like back of their hand. They'd be upstairs, and the heating system, and the press box and all over the place. So they had a great time.
- [00:46:03.06] INTERVIEWER 1: So tell me again about your working years.
- [00:46:06.00] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I started in 1959. I graduated in '59, started coaching in '59. And so back then, we had a program for women. Actually, that man was a coach before I came here. He had to retire, mandatory retirement, age 70. So he would [? talk ?] home of six more Years, we crossed paths.
- [00:46:30.54] And his daughter ran a program with a union, which you probably didn't know there was a pool at the union. And it was made up of Ann Arbor kids plus university people. And they actually had a championship back then, that few people realized. And we won the national championship, back then in the early '60s with that group of athletes.
- [00:46:57.68] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you have any other jobs before coaching?
- [00:47:00.23] RICHARD KIMBALL: No. I started right out coaching at the University of Michigan.
- [00:47:04.92] INTERVIEWER 1: What was a typical day like during the working years?
- [00:47:08.09] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, we usually had double workouts every day. We got in early in the morning, 6 o'clock, for a morning workout. They go to class, and come back in the afternoon. I had it set up so we had to work out groups because the old pool had a seven-meter tower, but two boards have faced each other. So it's difficult to coach both [INAUDIBLE] same time without walking back and forth each person. But it was one of the best pools back then for its kind. It had a tower, which almost no pools in the country had towers. [INTERPOSING VOICES]
- [00:47:49.45] INTERVIEWER 2: We'll take a short break. [INAUDIBLE]
- [00:47:54.08] INTERVIEWER 1: What does your family enjoy doing together when your kids are still at home?
- [00:47:58.31] RICHARD KIMBALL: We didn't have very much money. So I'm going to the [INAUDIBLE] or something like that was a big deal for us. But we did a lot of picnics, and things like that at the parks. And we went to sporting events and stuff when I was young.
- [00:48:17.59] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you ever go on any vacations?
- [00:48:19.85] RICHARD KIMBALL: We did. We moved to Wisconsin at our grandparents' house. And because I was involved in swimming, we went up to Minneapolis for state championship, and for other things. I had relatives up there. So that was one thing we did when we were--
- [00:48:39.71] INTERVIEWER 1: Do you remember a favorite vacation that you had with your family?
- [00:48:42.50] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think going to Wisconsin to see our grandparents was. It was a little town of only 64 people. And they had a Catholic church and a Catholic school with 64 people. I can't imagine that. I guess all the other little towns would come to school.
- [00:49:02.39] INTERVIEWER 1: What were personal favorite things to do for fun?
- [00:49:06.47] RICHARD KIMBALL: Probably, I'd have to say sports because we're involved. My brother was involved in sports than I was.
- [00:49:13.81] INTERVIEWER 1: What somebody else that you did besides sports?
- [00:49:17.75] RICHARD KIMBALL: We did a lot of biking. We did a lot of games at the park. We'd choose up teams, and have competitions and stuff.
- [00:49:26.83] INTERVIEWER 1: Are there any special days, events, or family traditions, you practice that different from your childhood tradition?
- [00:49:33.09] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, because I didn't go to Catholic school. I went to Catechism classes and stuff. And my brother and sister, because they were in other school, didn't have to do that. But my own children had to go to Catechism classes because they didn't go to a Catholic school here either.
- [00:49:53.86] INTERVIEWER 1: Is that because of swimming?
- [00:49:55.51] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yes.
- [00:49:57.76] INTERVIEWER 1: What was the popular music during your adult years?
- [00:50:03.01] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't know. I wasn't involved that much in music, but my youngest son was in music. And he played the drums. In elementary school he went to, they had two classes, two doors away from us. They had a quota that you had to do by Tuesday. And if you did it, you could do anything you wanted to.
- [00:50:25.00] So by Tuesday, he'd be over the school playing drums. That was his big thing. And he traveled all over the world with his bands. He went to Australia, New Zealand. He was in Germany when the wall went down. So he's had a lot of experience travel, like both of his brother and sister.
- [00:50:48.91] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any particular dances with the music? Do you remember?
- [00:50:54.04] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yeah, I remember the homecoming dance in high school. I was a cheerleader in high school. So my senior year, we went to all the basketball and football games, and then the dances, and stuff. I had a girlfriend that I dated for a longtime.
- [00:51:18.14] INTERVIEWER 1: What was a popular clothing or hairstyle within your adult years?
- [00:51:21.56] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, everybody wore their jeans real low. And they didn't have a thing you had pull them , dress code. But that was part of growing up, the boys that had long hair and stuff. But that wasn't dominant until later. A lot of it was in senior high school in college. We engaged in that.
- [00:51:51.76] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any other fads or styles from through your adult years?
- [00:51:56.57] RICHARD KIMBALL: I don't really remember that much as being something that I questioned.
- [00:52:03.95] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any slang terms, phrases, or words that aren't used today?
- [00:52:08.67] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think girls will refer to as guys. Everybody was guys. It wasn't two separate things.
- [00:52:20.28] INTERVIEWER 1: When thinking back on your working adult life, what important social or historical events were taking place at the time? And how do they personally affect you [INAUDIBLE]
- [00:52:29.01] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I was very happy to be able to work out the varsity swimming team because the junior high and senior high together. Actually, my coach brought me to dive with the team when I was in fifth grade, and gave me an opportunity to compete as a seventh grader. And that was really important in my life. My coach was like a father to me. And that made a big difference in my life.
- [00:53:03.14] INTERVIEWER 1: We'll move on to work and retirement. What was your primary field of employment?
- [00:53:10.05] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I was very fortunate to be able to start out in the ultimate jive when you think of going back to your own university coach or teacher, or whatever. So I started coaching right after graduation was over, I started coaching. And coach for 43 years at Michigan.
- [00:53:32.85] INTERVIEWER 1: What got you interested in swimming and diving, if any?
- [00:53:36.06] RICHARD KIMBALL: Primarily, my high school coach encouraged me out through high school, junior high school. And the guys on the team were all seniors, a lot older than me. They'd take me, grab my arms and legs, and flip me up, and I'd land on my back. And they thought that was great fun.
- [00:53:55.98] And they try to sneak me into a burlesque show up in Minneapolis when I was a seventh grader. They try to hold me up a little bit, slightly taller. But it was really nice being part of that team. And we won state championships and league championships. So that was a really important part of my life, being with all those older guys.
- [00:54:22.39] INTERVIEWER 1: When you were a kid, what made you want to start swimming?
- [00:54:25.96] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think probably because my dad used to take me down the lake every day, and throw me. And I started swimming very young. When I was four years old, I was swimming already and being part of a sport. And then being there as a seventh grader, I was a seventh grade letterman, and won the state championship as a ninth grader. Just to show you the difference, one of the ninth grade, people in my class, got a letter in basketball, and that was headlines on the sports page.
- [00:55:00.47] And the way down in the bottom, talked about me winning state championship. Just to show the emphasis back then still the same way.
- [00:55:10.23] INTERVIEWER 1: What was a typical day like during the working years of your adult life?
- [00:55:14.06] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, going to run practice, and having been on a great team, where the two new coaches came in to replace Matt Mann, who was a very important coach at Michigan, who won lots of national championships. And the two new guys, they had a swimming coach and a diving coach. And one of the swimming coach was a Michigan grad and on a national championship team.
- [00:55:43.51] And the diving coach that came in here went to Ohio State, and won 20 national championships while he was growing up, and never dive until it came out of the military. And then four years later, won an Olympic games in 1948. And so it was a tremendous advantage to me to have a coach like that. And we did a lot of different things that I'd never done before, like use a trampoline for diving.
- [00:56:13.55] And I started bouncing trampoline, and was on the gymnastics team as well, and a cheerleader at Michigan. And so I had a lot of different activities. Sometimes, I'd have two gymnastics meets and a swimming meet, or two swimming meets and a gymnastics meet, trying to fit everything in. And then also having to go to study table, and things like that. It's a full-time commitment to athletics and academics.
- [00:56:43.67] INTERVIEWER 1: What specific training or skills were required for coaching?
- [00:56:47.50] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, knowing the sport well and having worked a job. Working at a country club where I coached diving all the four years, and I was going to school helped me tremendously to be able to understand what it took to be a good diver. And have being coached by a diver that was Olympic champion, and a very good coach. And being part of a program I strongly feel that winning brings the winning.
- [00:57:21.36] If you're on a team that never loses, and then you're part of a team, as a coach, never lost. We won three national championships while I was in school. And I won a national championship, both one meter and three meter. It puts you in a position where people respect you, and listen to what you say. And so that helped me a lot in that type of program.
- [00:57:48.90] INTERVIEWER 1: Were there any technology changes that occur during your working years?
- [00:57:52.86] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, for me, one of the biggest things was the use of the spotting belt on trampoline allows you to do things without being afraid to do, a new dive or learn how to twist. And when I started, I put a belt over the water, as well as we use the belt over the trampoline.
- [00:58:12.93] And I devised a system where I could actually keep a person moving, and could get them to do a front 3 and 1/2 or a front 4 and 1/2 just by tipping the belt in such a way. Which I learned, my first year of coaching, having had a diver that I wanted her to do a back 2 and 1/2 somersault, and three meter. And I learned how to tip her and do a back 2 and 1/2 somersault. And it really made a big difference.
- [00:58:41.95] Everybody in the world uses that system now. The Chinese came here, and spent 14 hours with me to learn how to tip people in the belt. My son holds the record for forward somersaults. He did it for 67, when he was about 10 years old. He's light. I could keep him going indefinitely till I got too tired to tip him anymore.
- [00:59:09.03] INTERVIEWER 1: What's the biggest difference in your field of employment from the time you started to now?
- [00:59:14.61] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I think one of the biggest things is that the programs have advanced, and they're doing things now that weren't done when I was a diver. Now, you've gotta learn how to do a 4 and 1/2. I learned that when I was just at the university. I jumped into a trampoline, which allows you to get up in the air higher, and did a 4 and 1/2.
- [00:59:38.66] And I used to do it in the shows that I did when I was doing show business. And now, everybody has to do that. One of my divers in 1975, demonstrated the 4 and 1/2 and inward 3 and 1/2 at the world championship. And back then, you had to perform the stunt in front of a group of people, on the International Committee. And they decided whether it was too safe, or it was all safe enough to do. And that's how a new dive got put in.
- [01:00:13.63] Now, they have a formula. And if you do, you can do anything you want. And they can get a degree of difficulty just by [? plan ?] it into this formula. So things have changed drastically in terms of being able to do anything you want. And then let me put it on the table. Back when we had to demonstrate, it was a different story.
- [01:00:38.53] So now, most of the girls are doing the same dive as the men are. And from when I started and started coaching women, I expected them to do the same dives that men did. Three of my girl divers went to the nationals in 1967, doing a full men's less than 10 meter. And that was the first time any girls did those dives, like the back 2 and 1/2, reversed 2 and 1/2, front 3 and 1/2. They did all the big dives.
- [01:01:10.77] And then the next year, everybody in Europe started to do. That's how fast people started to jump on the new dives. But now, it's even more difficult for the girls.
- [01:01:21.51] INTERVIEWER 1: Is there anything specific that the program has today that you wish you would've had?
- [01:01:27.25] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, now, they're just expected to do it. When they come here, they're expected to dive all three events because the reason they'll give a scholarship to a diver is because they have three events. Whereas you're compared to a swimmer that does five or six events because of the [? realize. ?]
- [01:01:47.73] So you've got to be a really good diver right now to get a scholarship. We have a freshman girl here right now that last summer, won the nationals all by herself. She qualified all three events, scored high enough to win a national championship in the women's. So they're expected to be doing all three events.
- [01:02:15.16] INTERVIEWER 1: How do you judge excellence within your field?
- [01:02:17.57] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, you judge it by whether or not they're consistent, whether or not they can perform under pressure. And right now, you've got to know what to tell your diver when they get up on that board. Because everybody's afraid of failure. And you've got to convince him that in practice that they're good enough to hit their dives when it really counts. And that's a big factor.
- [01:02:43.58] You have to have the experience yourself to know what it feels like to go up there and perform. Like, my son going up there with this last dive, with a chance to get second Olympic games. And you're performing in front of 10,000 people, and however many people are watching on TV. "I know that you can do the dives." That's really tough, being able to perform under that kind of pressure.
- [01:03:10.35] INTERVIEWER 1: What do you usually tell your divers before they [INAUDIBLE]
- [01:03:13.79] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, setup their hurdle. If you have a good hurdle, you have a good chance to hit the dive. And so you constantly tell them about board work. When you start diving, you start to learn board work. And the last diving of your career, you're still working on board work. That's how long it takes.
- [01:03:35.20] And it's totally different than gymnastics where they're actually pushing on the floor, and using the floor to accelerate where you have to ride a diving board. You have to put weight into the boards so it toss you higher. So it's totally different. Hardest thing for a gymnast to switch to diving is learn how to do board work. Plus, it's a little different learning how to go in the water clean.
- [01:04:03.09] That's a very difficult thing to develop. We call it entry that's real clean is a rip entry because it sounds like ripping paper. And you have to have a rip entry if you're going to dominate that world class meet.
- [01:04:20.05] INTERVIEWER 1: What makes someone respected in your field?
- [01:04:24.68] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think having to rip entry and be consistent. My son probably had the best rip entry of anybody in the world when he was diving. His splash was very minimal. It just went [SOUND EFFECT] when he hit the water. And if you don't have that, even though everything should be considered, that rip entry with a bad dive still gets you good scores. So it makes a big difference in diving.
- [01:04:51.53] INTERVIEWER 1: What do you value most about what you did for living?
- [01:04:55.04] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I was able to supply a nice way of life for my children, and was able to take them to pool. Like I had my own pool in the backyard, which was really nice to have the ability to do that. And just being part of a great program traditions that Michigan made my life very pleasant.
- [01:05:21.32] INTERVIEWER 1: What is the biggest difference in your coaching field of employment from the time you started until now?
- [01:05:28.26] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, for me, the biggest difference was being able to have world class divers. And I had five Olympic gold medal winners, three silver, and three bronze, and 24 divers in my program made Olympic teams. And toward the end of my career, I had three of six divers on the Olympic team [? were mine ?] at Michigan. So to be able to go and coach at the Olympic game, coach your own divers.
- [01:06:00.76] And if you're respected in the international field, you have a lot better chance of your divers doing well because they know that you've produced a lot of good divers. So it changes over the years.
- [01:06:17.12] INTERVIEWER 1: We'll move onto residence. Tell me about any moves you made during your working years and retirement. [INAUDIBLE] decision to move? What's your current--
- [01:06:25.39] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, because I went on a trip around the world in 1960, that was my second year coaching. And we lived in an apartment, and we hadn't even purchased a house or anything. We had an apartment, to move into it, and I didn't have a salary. I just started my first job. The first year, I was there. I was an interim coach. And then since it was my first year, so I had to get a house, and not a very good employment job in terms of salary.
- [01:07:04.93] Fritz Crisler, who is the athletic director at that time here in Ann Arbor, know that the basketball arena is called Crisler Arena, and named after Fritz Crisler. And Fritz Crisler is the coach that started two-platoon football, where you had a defense and an offense. He's the first guy to do that.
- [01:07:30.34] He also bought the Michigan helmet, from Princeton to Michigan, when he came here, and our uniform and stuff was changed by Fritz Crisler. So he was pretty much of a penny pincher. And so he got you for as little money as he could get. So I started out very low salary, which made it difficult to start.
- [01:07:54.49] But I was fortunate enough to start doing camps and stuff when I started coaching, and did professional diving for about 10 years. And we traveled throughout the country doing shows, which supplemented my income. So that made it a lot easier to get through that period of not very much money.
- [01:08:18.75] INTERVIEWER 1: How do you feel about your current living situation?
- [01:08:20.82] RICHARD KIMBALL: It's fine. I'm retired, but I still travel doing camps from 10 weeks or more of summer, and that supplements my retirement. And having coach for many years at Michigan, I had a pretty good retirement program. And that's still very helpful to my Social Security. And it makes it a lot easier to survive, having retired.
- [01:08:50.45] I retired in 2002, and I'm still doing camps all summer. So it makes it much easier to survive.
- [01:09:00.26] INTERVIEWER 1: [INAUDIBLE]
- [01:09:04.74] RICHARD KIMBALL: But I don't know if you saw the back of it. I had it made up, and so that you can get. They have everything. You can get all kinds of different things that we get here, but it's our bootleg. Like tennis shoes, like all kinds of things that they make.
- [01:09:25.97] INTERVIEWER 1: So when thinking back on your life after retirement up to the present, what important social or historical events were taking place? And how did they affect you if anything?
- [01:09:38.40] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I would say having been a coach and traveled so much, you see a lot of things that go around the world. And you realize how lucky are you that he understands. In spite of our election procedures right now, which are kind of scary.
- [01:10:00.69] INTERVIEWER 1: When thinking back on your entire life, what important social, historical event had the greatest impact?
- [01:10:06.68] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I think back to high school, being part of a swimming diving team, and also, on track, that was really important because much of my life has changed because of being a diver in high school. I went in the state championships and stuff, allowed me to go to college.
- [01:10:32.27] Most kids in my neighborhood that I think the only other people I went to college with my brother and sister. Nobody else in my community went to college. She must have forgotten some. One thing that was very important was going to college, which I never thought about ahead of time. But my high school coach, he encouraged me to study. And I possibly get a scholarship, which I did at Oklahoma. And then later, transferred to Michigan.
- [01:11:10.66] INTERVIEWER 1: What did you study specifically in college, like for a major--
- [01:11:13.82] RICHARD KIMBALL: I studied physical education. Now, they refer to it as kinesiology, but it's the same. The only difference is that you could go into medical school or dentistry, or anything, if you take the right course for kinessiology. You can take all scientific stuff and prepare for medical school, or dental school, or anything. S o it's changed a little bit.
- [01:11:38.57] INTERVIEWER 1: What family heirlooms, and keepsakes, and mementos do you possess, if any?
- [01:11:43.76] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, one of my nieces did a study on the family. And she made a little book, telling all about ancestry. So we have a copy of that, which is nice to look back and see where our family came from, what they did, and stuff.
- [01:12:05.19] INTERVIEWER 1: Is there anything that you would want to pass on to your children?
- [01:12:09.86] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I passed a lot onto him already because all three of them dived at one time in their life. And my son was an Olympic silver medalist. And my daughter was traveled all over the world, as well as my boys have. So they've had an excellent career of the [? road, ?] to go many of the places around the world.
- [01:12:34.52] INTERVIEWER 1: Thinking back over your entire life, what are you most proud of?
- [01:12:38.44] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think getting a college education and being successful in sports, and getting my own kids involved in what I loved all my career. And it's been a great experience for them as well. And for me, being part of an Olympic movement, Olympic games, and stuff. And you know being part of a successful swimming team while I was coaching.
- [01:13:07.38] And as a diver, we won three NCAAs. And as a coach, we won three more NCAAs. So be part of that type of thing. Being part of a group of athletes that have worked toward goals is been probably the most important thing in my life, being part of that type of environment.
- [01:13:33.90] INTERVIEWER 1: If you wouldn't have been a coach, what do you think you have been doing? Did you have a backup plan?
- [01:13:39.46] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I took a lot of math courses and stuff, and thought I might go into engineering, which didn't turn out because primarily, of my high school coach. I looked up to him, and he was a very successful coach. And I wanted to be like him. Have Influence on other people in my program.
- [01:14:06.91] INTERVIEWER 1: What would you say has changed most from the time you're my age to now?
- [01:14:12.55] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think the amount of traveling I've done, being at the Olympic games. The Olympic games is like going to the Super Bowl and then some because you meet the best athletes in every sport. And you have lunch with them or dinner with them every day for the length of the Olympic games. And you follow their sports.
- [01:14:39.68] You use the sport to get in, to watch with your credential as track because the stadium has lots of seating. But if you go early to basketball or gymnastics, you can also get to watch other people perform. And it makes a big difference seeing people in other sports and learning their experiences.
- [01:15:08.43] INTERVIEWER 1: What advice would you give to our generation?
- [01:15:12.56] RICHARD KIMBALL: I would say that there's a lot of different things going on. But young people now, they don't focus in on one thing this much. And I think that if they want to be successful, they need to focus on one or two things, and try and work toward those goals. And it's very difficult nowadays because I think people are maybe more diversified, but they don't hone in on one thing as much as we did back when I was growing up.
- [01:15:49.10] INTERVIEWER 1: How do you think today's generation is different from when you were growing up?
- [01:15:53.97] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I think they have many more opportunities to select something they like to do for their lifetime work. And having coached all these different generations, kids are the same today as they were back when I first started coaching. They've got goals, they want to be successful.
- [01:16:14.58] And I think that they are working hard trying to accomplish something. I don't see a great deal of difference in young people. They're still just as focused in on things as they were back when I first started coaching. Drinking back when I was young was much more prevalent than it is even now, but that's still pretty common.
- [01:16:42.59] But drugs play a big important factor nowadays. You've got more things that can get you off track than back when I was [? starting. ?] So I think those are things you have to face and deal with, that we didn't have to face.
- [01:17:00.52] INTERVIEWER 1: What has been one of your biggest challenges in life?
- [01:17:04.03] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think getting my kids through college, and getting them to understand what life was all about, and how to deal with it. And as a result of maybe the coach, two of the three are coaches now.
- [01:17:23.97] And the third one, kind of went on his own way, played football when he was in ninth and 10th grade. And he was in the music and the still in the music. So he chose a different way to go even though he's a good diver as a young kid. He didn't want to follow his brother, which I don't blame him. So he's got other things to deal with.
- [01:17:53.52] INTERVIEWER 1: What do you think one of your greatest successes were?
- [01:17:57.88] RICHARD KIMBALL: I think working with young people and seeing them go the right direction, and go on to college, and see them be successful in different fields as well as the same field that I'm in.
- [01:18:13.51] INTERVIEWER 1: [INAUDIBLE]
- [01:18:14.93] RICHARD KIMBALL: OK.
- [01:18:18.70] INTERVIEWER 1: So we're talking about what your biggest challenges in life or your greatest success.
- [01:18:24.88] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I think when you're successful, you'll be part of my high school and college background. You want to keep being successful so the pressure of producing. Nobody wants to know what you did last year, but you must know what you're going to do this year. You can be very successful, and have a bad year or something that can change your whole career.
- [01:18:54.34] INTERVIEWER 1: So you travel a lot, right? For camps and--
- [01:18:56.83] RICHARD KIMBALL: Yeah. You get sick of going back to the same big 10 schools year after year.
- [01:19:01.93] INTERVIEWER 1: So what was that like on your family? Do they go with you at all?
- [01:19:06.33] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, it meant that much of the kids growing up, I'd be gone a lot of the time. And my wife had to get them to school. It was a lot more difficult for her, I'm sure.
- [01:19:22.59] INTERVIEWER 1: Is there anything that you would like to add that I haven't asked about?
- [01:19:27.01] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I think because I've been to nine Olympic games, I'd like to tell you a little bit about that because each one has been so different. Like I mentioned before, Japan was my first one. And now, it's a great Olympic games. And back then, unlike now, they had several different dining halls with different food.
- [01:19:53.09] Now, everybody's in the same dining hall. They have some auxiliary ones, but the main one is open 24 hours a day. And you can get any kind of food you want. And that's where you meet the other athletes in other sports because they have to come to different meals. And so you get to know them more.
- [01:20:14.64] I met a girl that won the first marathon, which was in Los Angeles. Her story of winning, being the first one to win the marathon for women, it's interesting to hear. And then you meet the people in your own sport, and diving is relatively a very close-knit group of people.
- [01:20:40.10] I know there was diving coaches everywhere in the world. And all of them, you could buy hand motions control diver in another country. And they would understand you. And having gone on that tour around the world, I've met a lot of the divers and coaches from around the world. And saw which countries were successful, and why they were successful because they had a national program, and had small numbers of people to work with.
- [01:21:16.06] Like China right now, as their national training center, and they have probably 70 divers, from seven-year olds up to the most elite divers in the world. And East Germany program and the Russians, and a lot of things dealing with drugs were in Russia this last time.
- [01:21:39.17] Many of their athletes couldn't go because they had a National Drug program, where they were feeding the athletes steroids and stuff. And their divers were there, but many of their other athletes weren't there, like the track athletes. And that's because of a program sponsored by the government.
- [01:22:03.96] And the same thing was true. East Germany when they were feeding steroids to the girl athletes and stuff. When they started taking a scraping from a machine to see whether you're male or female. We never saw some of the Russian girl athletes again. They just disappear because there were probably men.
- [01:22:26.35] And being part of seeing something that happened at the Olympic games, and how important it was for the Germans to show that they were the master race. Actually, witnessing the German kids turning in their own parents shows you of how much you can program kids any way you want, which Hitler tried to do it. It was very interesting.
- [01:23:01.10] In Michigan, I had a diver that was Olympic champion in 1936. So he saw what's going on. And actually, if you won the Olympics in '36, your name is on stadium. Anybody that won Olympic gold medal put his name on the stadium. And I got to see a lot of that because our world championships were in Berlin. And I got to see a stadium, and the pool, and everything that was used.
- [01:23:34.70] And I've had an opportunity to go to Finland and see what the Olympic games were like in 1952. And I've been to Rome, the Olympic stadium, for competitions there. So not only did I not go to an Olympic games, I've been to many of the sites that were there a lot earlier, which most people don't get a chance to see other Olympic villages and stuff.
- [01:24:04.46] Many of the villages are kind of abandoned, but the athletic facilities, like they could go run the Olympics in LA right now. Because of all the sports that are out in LA, they wouldn't have to build a lot of things. And I noticed that they ran in Tokyo. They ran the figure skating, world championships there in the pool. They froze the pool and ran skating events on the Olympic pool. It was different.
- [01:24:45.67] And they use a lot of the facilities. But I think the biggest factor is meeting and finding out about other sports, and how they train, and what it's like for them to get the [INAUDIBLE] as an Olympic athlete. But it changes your whole life. And it's like the Super Bowl plus, there's no bigger sporting event in the world. And to be part of that, and part of the opening ceremonies, and closing ceremonies.
- [01:25:18.20] Closing ceremonies, everybody goes in, all mixed up the teams, and going in, you're going with your teams. So that's a big part of the Olympic games. And the exchange, sweats and clothes, and everything, is a big part of being at the Olympic games. So it's a part of your life you never forget. And having gone to more the one makes it even more important to me.
- [01:25:49.15] The thrill of being there, and watching people won an event. See the Americans in Tokyo, they had cameras everywhere, and TVs everywhere. Every time we heard the "Star-Spangled Banner" played, we'd run over and see [INAUDIBLE]. So to see our sport totally dominate, we were the most dominant sport in the '64 Olympic games.
- [01:26:20.76] It was an experience never to forget. And going back to it was an amazing experience.
- [01:26:29.54] INTERVIEWER 1: Is there anything else that you want to add?
- [01:26:32.44] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, being in a sport and having gone to all of our national championships for 43 years, and seeing how it's progressed, seeing how the sport worldwide has changed so much. What they're doing, the girls are doing, the same things the men are doing. Like on 10-meter they're doing back 3 and 1/2 and reverse 3 and 1/2.
- [01:27:01.60] Dives that weren't even done back when I was a diver because it progresses over the years. And it's gone from a committee of people judging, watching a new dive being done. They were the ones that ported it in and out. And now, we have a system where you can do any dive in the world. And they can develop a degree of difficulty. And that now, is so much higher than it was.
- [01:27:34.12] Maybe when I was judging the highest degree of difficulty was 2.9 And now, it's up in the 4 because they're doing so much more. And it takes somebody, like myself, I did dives back in 1960 that took 40 years to get in the book because of the way it was done. And doing backward arm stands, I did it in 1960. And it took 40 years to get in the books.
- [01:28:06.50] And now, most people are doing those dives, from 4 and 1/2 is another one. Everybody on 10-meter now, the boys are all doing the 4 and 1/2s and doing 3 and 1/2, which wasn't even thought of back then. They even have a rule. Now, if you think it's unsafe, that they're too close, you can get them 2s if you wanted to.
- [01:28:33.33] And if you've watched the Olympic games, even their hair sometimes touched the tower, and the tower is not very forgiving. If you hit to board, the boards, you get a lot of play. But the tower is either concrete, or something solid. So you hit the tower, it's not at all forgiving.
- [01:28:57.24] But we also have like bubbles now. We have a lot better ways to teach. I mean like we have belts over the water. And you can teach him in the belt, so it's much safer. We use a trampoline and a dry board to teach people, so that the safety factor is there. But when you're doing as many guys as we do in a career, the odds are for the fact that you might hit a board or might hit a tower.
- [01:29:33.27] So you have to train, set up safe rules. That's why we use the belt. At gymnastics, it doesn't use the belt like we do. They use it to some extent. They like on the high bar will wrap the rope around. You do somersaults around so then you go the other way, coming out, and they can still catch him when you come off. Or they don't use the belts here as much as we do in diving.
- [01:30:01.86] They could be a lot safer than they are, I think as a coach. But most Olympic type events have danger factors involved. Like tearing muscles, and stuff like that, when you're training. To see the advancement in sport has been amazing to me, to see just another sport. And they have much better filming now. You can analyze so much better.
- [01:30:37.95] So that's been a big factor in the development of sports as well.
- [01:30:43.58] INTERVIEWER 1: Did you ever have a major injury or anything that put you out for a while?
- [01:30:47.71] RICHARD KIMBALL: Well, I've hit the board several times, but nothing serious. I hit the back of my head. And I'd hit my heels on the board, and my toes on the board, my fingers. It's important, that's very common. And like on the back 1 and 1/2, it's common to let go early and fetch your feet on the board.
- [01:31:12.65] But there's only been two deaths in diving in the history of diving. Both of which were done doing reverse 3 and 1/2 on tower. One of them was a diver that had been practicing to do a reverse 3 and 1/2, doing 2 and 1/2 on five-meter. Then we have a 10-meter, [INAUDIBLE] too close.
- [01:31:37.61] And the other one was a Russian diver, he had reverse 3 and 1/2, hit the tower. So it's relatively safe, but there are some elements there that you have to have courage enough to get up there and do it. You can't be a great diver if you don't have courage enough to try. And that's one of the most things that irritates divers is kids that balk will balk over and over again when they're learning a new dive.
- [01:32:11.68] You have to peel to go through that fear barrier. And the more times you go through the fear barrier, the more chances you're going to do it again. So that's a big part of learning how to be a good diver is dealing with the fear of hitting the board or jumping to the side, and hitting side of the pool or there are all kinds of factors involved and injuries.
- [01:32:44.67] INTERVIEWER 1: OK. Nothing else to add. That's good.
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AAU Diving National Championship
University of Oklahoma
University of Michigan - Athletics
University of Michigan - Faculty & Staff
Rochester High School
Sports & Recreation
Thomas Francis Jr.