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Remembering Olympic Diving Coach Betty Perkins-Carpenter

New York State Sen. Richard Funke

Betty Perkins-Carpenter has died. The health and fitness expert and former Olympic Diving Coach was 87. She had been living in Penfield, outside Rochester.

“She taught generations of local children how to swim, trained Olympians and, in later years, published books and encouraged countless older Americans the importance of exercise," said New York State Sen. Rich Funke. "A true patriot who loved this country, Betty was active in the veterans community for years.” 

Funke noted Perkins-Carpenter was inducted into the state Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2017. Perkins-Carpenter was an Air Force veteran, where she excelled in diving for the aquatic team and established physical activity programs for the children of Air Force-based personnel. She completed her service in the Air Force in 1950 as a sergeant.

Perkins-Carpenter also taught swimming and diving at the YMCA and in 1959, she started the Perkins Swim Club, where thousands of people learned to swim and compete in aquatic sports. She then went on to coach swimming and diving at the University of Rochester and for both the Men’s and Women’s Diving Teams at the 1976 Olympic Games.

Perkins-Carpenter also worked to match Department of Defense photos with the veterans in those pictures. She came into possession of more than 100 original photos of Korean War veterans and wanted to get them to the veterans or their families.

Perkins-Carpenter worked with Rochester City Hall staffer Tiana Stephens on the project and both of them talked about the project in November 2014 on WXXI’s Need to Know with Helene Biandudi Hofer.

Stephens is the granddaughter of a Korean War veteran. You can explore the photos in a D&C project, called Snapshots from the Korean War.Perkins-Carpenter also gained some fame from photos taken of her beach home on Lake Ontario, which became encased with ice in March of 2017.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
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