Olympic Swimmer Lenore Wingard Dies
Feb. 11, 2000
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Lenore Kight Wingard, who won medals for the U.S. Olympic swimming team in 1932 and 1936 and continued swimming into her 80s, has died. She was 88.
Her career included competing before Adolf Hitler in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The Olympic performers were closely guarded by German soldiers, Wingard recalled in a 1991 interview.
At one point, Wingard needed two hours to get back to her dormitory when she had to take a subway because Hitler's soldiers wouldn't let her cross the street.
``Hitler's car was going to come down the street, and you couldn't go anywhere until he got where he wanted,'' she recalled. ``Where we stayed, we were fenced in, always guarded by soldiers. When it was over, I was glad to get home.''
She died Wednesday at Mercy Franciscan Hospital in Cincinnati.
Wingard, once dubbed by a sports writer ``one of the fastest mermaids in the world,'' set world and American records in freestyle events. She won gold and silver medals in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and a bronze in the 1936 Games.
One of her best-known races was one she lost by one-tenth of a second, the 400-meter freestyle event in the '32 Games. She matched world champion Helene Madison stroke for stroke until Madison won with a world-record time of 5 minutes, 28.5 seconds. Wingard, then Lenore Kight, finished in 5:28.6, also better than Madison's world record of 5:31.0. Because of the close finish, judges took 15 minutes to declare a winner.
The native of Frostburg, Md., grew up and trained as a swimmer in the Pittsburgh area. She eloped with Cleon Wingard, a physical education instructor, in 1935 and moved with him to Cincinnati where he had been offered a teaching job.
Cleon Wingard, a retired Cincinnati high school principal, survives her. Other survivors include a son and daughter, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
There was a visitation Friday night at Hodapp Funeral Home. A private burial was planned next week at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.
Wingard fondly remembered her Olympic experiences.
``Making an Olympic team is really something extra special,'' she said in the 1991 interview. ``To stand on the podium and see the American flag go up and hear the national anthem is something you never, never forget.''