Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross
Mary Bennett of Urbana, Illinois, attended Pine Crest Prep School, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and continued on to the University of Michigan, where she received a degree in Zoology. She eventually became a certified public accountant and owned her own business where she dealt with clients from all over the country. Bennett had an exciting life, traveling and living all over the world, A member of the USA Peace Corps, she taught science in Liberia, and was the National Women’s Swim Coach in Nigeria. Bennett also resided in Saudi Arabia and Iran. She moved around the U.S. a couple times, and ended up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey in 1986, where she lived until her death in 2014.
A lifelong swimmer and diver, Bennett participated in the 1968 Olympic trials in freestyle, just missing out on making the team. As a student at the University of Michigan, she competed in the both swimming (50 Free, 200 Medley Relay, 200 Free Relay)and diving, (1meter, 3-meter diving).
She eventually left swimming behind to focus her attention on diving and formed a close relationship and bond with her coach, ISHOF Honoree, Dick Kimball. After a break, about 1990, she returned to diving and began competing in Masters diving events, both on the national and international level.
Mary competed in four age groups between 1990 and 2014 (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69). She competed in the 1 meter, 3 meter, 10 meter and also in the synchro diving events winning a total of 106 gold, 23 silver and three bronze medals. Bennett travelled to and competed in six different FINA Masters World Championships, where she won 13 gold medals, five silver medals and one bronze medal. At the World Masters Games (2002, 2005, 2009) she won five gold and four silver medals. Just months before her death from cancer she won the synchro platform event in Montreal in 2014. At the time, Mary was on oxygen and had to be carried up the ladder to do her dives but insisted on finishing the event. She passed away on October 11, 2014.
Mary Bennett won the McAlister and Krahn Performance Award (Sable) in 2012. Bennett was one of the founding members of the East Coast Masters Diving (ECMD) and continues to be an inspiration to all Masters divers. Today, ECMD hosts an annual “Mary Bennett Masters Invitational Diving Meet” for divers over the age of twenty-one years old.
Mary’s sister, Betty Bennett, accepted the award on Mary’s behalf.