When divers enter the calm water of a pool, breaking the surface and the silence, there is a small splash, and then ripples that extend outward throughout the pool. Charles Batterman had a similar impact on the Columbia men’s diving program. Though his time as a Lion was brief, Batterman had such success in and out of the pool that his impact continues to be felt today, not only in the Columbia Athletics program, but also in the sport of diving as a whole.
Batterman, who was born in Brooklyn in 1922, came to Columbia in 1943 after diving for Ohio State for two years. His one year on campus was a great one. In the 1944 season, Batterman was a National Inter-Collegiate and National AAU diving champion in both the high board and the low board. For his performance, he was named to the honorary 1944 Olympic team, but did not get to compete because the Games were cancelled due to World War II. He remains one of only two divers in Columbia history to have won a national championship title.
But it was Batterman’s contributions to the sport of diving after his graduation that continue to remain relevant to all those in the sport today. As an assistant coach at Harvard and then an assistant professor and coach at MIT, Batterman developed some of the best literature about diving that exists today. In 1968, he wrote a children’s book, How to Start in Swimming and Diving. He is known best, however, for authoring The Techniques of Springboard Diving, the first book to apply physics principles to the analysis of dives. He was also the subject of Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton’s strikingly beautiful stroboscopic photographs, which captured the diver at various points as he twirled through the air on his way to the water.
Batterman was a longtime coach and member of the New England swimming and diving community. A coach at MIT for over 20 years, Batterman also spent time coaching in Poland, and was honored by the swimming community upon his retirement with the creation of the Charles Batterman Men’s and Women’s Diving Coach of the Year awards and the annual Charlie Batterman Relays.
Married to his wife, Ruth Lester Fink for 60 years before her death in 2004, Batterman passed away in April 2010. He is survived by his son, Henry, his daughter, Nora, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.