Host City: St. Louis, United States
Venue(s): Life Saving Exhibition Lake, Forest Park, St. Louis
Date Started: September 7, 1904
Date Finished: September 7, 1904
A diving competition was held at the life-saving exhibition lake in the middle of the World's Fairgrounds on 7 September 1904, concurrent with the swimming events. Only one event was held, a fancy diving competition on springboard. A St. Louis doctor, Dr. George Sheldon, won the competition, defeating Germany's Georg Hoffmann fairly easily. The controversy in this event occurred in the battle for the bronze medal. The American, Frank Kehoe, and a German, Alfred Braunschweiger, tied for third with 11.33 points. The Germans protested this result, thinking that Braunschweiger had easily outperformed Kehoe. A "dive-off" for third place was scheduled but Braunschweiger refused to compete and Kehoe was awarded the bronze medal.
The German commissioner to the World's Fair, Dr. Theodore Lewald, had donated a trophy for the winning diver, but he was so incensed at the outcome that he refused to award it to Sheldon. The controversy occurred because the Germans thought that they did fancier dives than the Americans, although the Americans protested that the Germans had poorer entries into the water. The Germans, noting that the event was called a fancy diving contest, thought that was immaterial. On 29 September, James Sullivan announced the ruling that the protest had not been allowed, although the decision had been made two weeks earlier. The Germans protested again, and this was, at first, overruled. But two years later, the official result was announced as a tie for third place, although this was never accepted by the Americans, and the final result is disputed.
In many older sources this event is often described as a platform diving event, but that is incorrect. Photos show that it was held off a springboard, and diving historian Bob Clotworthy (1956 springboard gold medalist) has also maintained for several years that this was a springboard event.