On July 22, 1976, former Monmouth University star Wendy Boglioli had what she considers to be her greatest day ever as a competitor. But it wasn’t the day she won her gold medal.
Wendy Boglioli (neé Lansbach), born March 6, 1955, was raised in Merrill, and later Land of Lakes, Wisc. She attended Monmouth University in West Long Branch from 1973 to 1976 and is one of the most decorated athletes in Monmouth athletics history, starring in swimming.
After eight years of active competition, she retired from swimming in 1974, leaving the squad at Monmouth U. to marry Bernie Boglioli, then the assistant coach of Central Jersey Aquatic Club. At a time when women swimmers did not lift weights and collegiate nationals carried little prestige, Boglioli lost 40 pounds and returned to competition with a sensational record-setting performance at the 1976 AIAW championships.
On Sunday, July 25, 1976, at the Olympic Games in Montreal, Wendy’s star reached its zenith when she swam on the team that won the gold medal in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay, which set World and Olympic Records. The 4×100 meter freestyle relay is considered the most prestigious event in Olympic swimming; it is the final event of of the swimming competition for both men and women. Wendy also won the bronze medal in the 100 meter butterfly and a silver medal in the 4×100 meter medley relay at the Montreal games. She was 21 years old at the time – the oldest member of the U.S. women’s swim team.
In that historic event, Kim Peyton, Jill Sterkel, Shirley Babashoff and Boglioli defeated the heavily favored (and systemically-doped) East German team, earning the U.S. women their only gold in swimming at those games. Dubbed the ‘greatest swimming upset never told’ by Swimming World Magazine, Wendy’s story was the subject of the 2016 NBC/USA Swimming documentary ‘The Last Gold,’ narrated by actress Julianna Margulies, aired nationally on NBC, available on iTunes and Netflix.
That race is still considered one of the greatest wins in U.S. swim team history, but it’s not what Wendy considers her greatest day as a swimmer. Wendy told Monmouth Timeline that the bronze medal she won earlier at those games was the best race of her life, and that losing by a hair to two cheaters – who have since admitted such – has always meant to Wendy that this race was truly her gold medal and world record. It was also one of only three individual medals won by the U.S. women swimmers that year, out of a team of 23 competitors. We at Monmouth Timeline heartily agree with her perspective
Before the Olympics, Wendy’s father had become ill. After the Olympics, Wendy’s father’s situation worsened, so Wendy began helping her family research nursing homes to prepare for her father‘s future needs. What Wendy found, among other things, was that the majority of the people in the homes were women – and that their savings had been depleted. Many had spent their lives caring for their loved ones, but now, in their time of need, there was no one available to care for them. And, for most of them, the cost of in-home care was prohibitive. Wendy immediately began educating families and businesses about the importance of planning for long-term care.
In the years following the Olympics, Wendy served as a collegiate coach at Yale University, before moving on to become a highly successful motivational speaker and an expert in healthy aging and long-term care (LTC) planning. Drawing from her Olympic experience, personal care-giving story and a refined acumen from almost two decades working as a LTC planning specialist, Wendy’s powerful presentations are a call-to-action for clients and advisers alike. Her presentation, “Physically Strong and Financially Sound,” emphasizes the importance of having a long-term care strategy in place which includes the entire picture: physical, mental and financial health.
Wendy, now a resident of Oregon, was inducted into the Monmouth University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
Archive Team. (2013). Doping’s Darkest Hour; The East Germans And The 1976 Montreal Games. Swimming World Magazine, November 28, 2013. Available: https://www.rmaconnect.com/speakers-and-trainers/wendy-boglioli/.
Smith, Janie. (1981). Swimming Past the Youngsters. The Crimson, Harvard University, April 8, 1981. Available: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/1981/4/8/swimming-past-the-youngsters-peven-the/.
Rankin, Maureen (2015). The Greatest Olympic Story Never Told. Swimming World Magazine, January 1, 2015. Available: https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news /greatest-olympic-story-never-told/.
Wendy Boglioli. (2007). Monmouth Athletics Hall of Fame, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, N.J. Available: https://monmouthhawks.com/honors/hall-of-fame/wendy-boglioli/8.
Featured image credit: Monmouth University: https://monmouthhawks.com/news/2008/1/24/1374108