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Remembering Lenore Kight Wingard

So many records in the days of wool suits

Author Unknown | April 21, 2002

from the New York Times

February 15, 2000. Lenore Kight Wingard, an American swimmer who won medals in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, died Wednesday (2/9/00) at a hospital in Cincinnati where she lived. She was 88.

Wingard won a silver medal in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and a bronze at the 1936 Games in Berlin, both in the 400-meter freestyle.

Her silver medal performance in 1932 came just a tenth of a second behind Helene Madison of the United States in a race so close that the judges took 15 minutes before declaring a victor. And both Wingard and Madison, who won with a time of 5:28.5, broke the previous world record.

As much as her medals, Wingard remembered the atmosphere of the 1936 Olympics, which was dominated by the presence of Hitler. Wingard, who swam in the days of wool suits and shirts, recalled that she once couldn't cross a street and go to her dormitory room for more than two hours because Hitler was coming down the route.

"Where we stayed, we were fenced in, always guarded by soldiers," she told the Cincinnati Enquirer in an interview in 1991. "When it was over, I was glad to get home."

Wingard, a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was born in Frostburg, Md. She taught herself to swim when she was 14, growing up in the Pittsburgh area.

She then went on to local, state and national meets. In 1933, she won all the national freestyle swimming championship meets from 100 meters to 1500 meters. By 1936 she held more swimming titles than any other woman.

Wingard won 20 national freestyle championships, and she held 21 American records and seven world records in the freestyle.

After retiring from competitive swimming, she managed pools, taught swimming, and, until about five years ago, swam about three miles a week at a local YMCA.

She is survived by her husband, Cleon J. Wingard; a son, Cleon, Jr., of College Hill, Ohio; a daughter, Diane Lynn Peterson, of Denver; four grandchildren; and two great-grand-children.

the following was sent by the Maryland Sports Hall of Fame

Wingard lived in Garrett Co. in Maryland. She was born September 26, 1911 in Frostburg, Maryland. She was an Olympic swimmer who held over 20 U.S. individual titles in indoor and outdoor freestyle races. She participated in two Olympics, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. She won many national victories and the U.S. freestyle champion outdoors in the late 1930s. Her amateur swimming career was marked with many world and American records, and, during her professional career, Wingard won both the Toronto Marathon in Canada and the Bernard MacFadden Professional Race in Cleveland, Ohio. She is recognized in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame (the first woman in Maryland), as well as the HELMS Hall of Fame. On September 4, 1935 Lenore Kight married Cleon Wingard. After her marriage and her participation in the 1936 Olympics, Mrs. Wingard turned professional.

Ina Rihani (irihani@mighty.net) is working on a project entitled "Women of Achievement in Maryland History and is seeking biographical information about Lenore. She and her associates will soon publish a book of that title soon, and Lenore has been nominated to be included. Please contact Ina if you information about or photos on Lenore.

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