David Greig (Skippy) Browning, champion springboard diver, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 5, 1931, the son of David G. and Martha (Hollingsworth) Browning, Sr. He was taken to Texas by his parents when he was three and began diving when he was four, under the direction of his father. The family lived for a time in Corpus Christi before moving to Dallas, where Browning in 1941 entered his first competition in swimming and diving contests.
After a brilliant high school diving career at Dallas Highland Park, where he was three times state diving champion, he enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit, but after one semester he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin. He had studied with coach Clarence Pinkston at the Detroit Athletic Club and came within one-fifth point of making the 1948 Olympic team before he was seventeen. In April 1949 he made his first national Amateur Athletic Union bid at Daytona Beach, Florida, but was edged out by the 1948 Olympic champion, Bruce Harlan of Ohio State. At their next competition four months later in Los Angeles, Browning beat Harlan and won his first national title. At the University of Texas he was named All-American diver in 1950, 1951, and 1952. In all three years he won the Southwest Conference diving championship on both the one-meter and three-meter boards. He dominated Southwest Conference diving for three years and was undefeated in dual meets during his collegiate career. He received a long list of diving awards, among which were eight AAU national diving titles and four National Collegiate Athletic Association titles. In the spring of 1952 at the intercollegiate competition at Yale he was given a perfect score of ten on a cutaway 1½ pike, rated one of the most difficult of dives. He made up his own special dives and the AAU rules committee officially adopted some of them. The University of Texas yearbook, Cactus, listed Browning as a Goodfellow in 1951 and 1952.
At the 1952 summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, Browning, in his senior university year, was acknowledged as the world's diving champion when he was awarded the Olympic gold medal. The following August he won the championship of the National AAU outdoor meet at Newark, New Jersey. In 1952 he accomplished what no other diver ever had by winning the Amateur Athletic Union, National Collegiate Athletic Association, and Olympic diving championships in all springboard events, both one-meter and three-meter. In 1954 he won his last AAU championship; he was sixty-five points ahead of his nearest competitor, something unheard of in that caliber diving competition.
He was married to Corinne (Cody) L. Couch on September 7, 1950, and graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in business administration in January 1953. He received his wings as a naval pilot at Pensacola, Florida, in June 1955. Browning was in training for the 1956 Olympics and favored to win another gold medal, when he was killed in the crash of his AFJS Fury, a jet carrier fighter, on March 13, 1956, on a training flight near Rantoul, Kansas. In 1957 he was named to the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame. In 1960 he was selected for the University of Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor, and in 1962 he was named to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
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Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Sports and Recreation
Sports (Swimming and Diving)
Texas in the 1920s
World War II
Texas Post World War II
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
Gulf Coast Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Browning, David Greig, Jr.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: