Coach Ernst Brandsten

Ernst Brandsten

ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee: Pre-2003

Stanford University

  • Olympic diving competitor for Sweden in the 1912 Summer Olympics.
  • Four-time USA Olympic diving coach.
  • His male divers won all 6 medals (springboard, platform) in the 1928 Olympics.
  • Invented tapered springboard and movable fulcrum.

Ernst Brandsten was the coach of the Stanford swimming and water polo teams, with an impressive swimming record of his own. He was active for 51 years as a ski jumper, diver and coach, competing from 1897 through the 1912 Olympics for Sweden where he married his first Olympic diving champion, Greta Johansson.

After Sweden, Ernie shipped out on a windjammer, helped chart the coast of Alaska for the US Coast & Geodetic Survey. Brandsten inherited the traditions of Sweden’s diving pioneers and introduced revolutionary ideas of his own, achieving such success in more than 30 years at his base at Stanford University that he is considered the Father of Modern Diving. Working with fellow coach Fred Cady), he introduced a more flexible laminated board with a movable fulcrum, which gave higher bounce and enabled his charges to execute more difficult dives.

Brandsten was also a USA Olympic diving coach four times. His Hall of Famers Pinkston, White and Desjardins dominated the 1920, ’24 and ’28 Olympics plus everything stateside before, during, between, and after those Games. In 1924, Brandsten did something no diving coach before or since has ever accomplished, when his Stanford-trained divers won all six male diving medals, placing first, second, and third in both springboard and tower at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Lest it sound like diving alone, Olympic swimmers Norman Ross, Ludy Langer and Hall of Fame water polo player Wally O’Connor were also Ernie’s boys.

When he retired in 1947 after 31 years of service, randsten had become the varsity coach with the longest continuous tenure in Stanford sports history.