Lenore Kight Wingard, a US Olympic swimmer who won medals at the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games died Wednesday, Feb. 9, in Cincinnati. She was 88. Once described as “one of the fastest mermaids in the world,” Wingard set national and world records in freestyle events. She won a gold and silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and a bronze at the 1936 Games in Berlin. In 1935, she won individual high point honors at the US National Swimming Championships.
In her later years, Wingard continued to compete in US Masters competition, frequently ranking among the top ten women in her age group, and setting an American record of 36.17 in the 50 yard freestyle for women 75-79 back in 1987.
In perhaps her best-known race in her Olympic career, she was out-touched by one-tenth of a second in the 400m free at the ’32 Games by American Helene Madison. Wingard, then Lenore Kight, finished in 5:28.6 to Madison’s 5:28.5, both times beating the listed world record.
In a recent interview, Wingard remembered her Olympic experiences fondly: “Making an Olympic team is really something extra special. To stand up on the podium and see the American flag go up and hear the national anthem is something that you never, never forget.”