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Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12

A look back at Northwoods Olympians


Story By Meghan Mamlock
Local News Published 07/21/2021 5:56PM, Last Updated 07/21/2021 6:51PM
Land O'Lakes - The opening ceremonies for the Tokyo OIympic Games are now just two days away. While there may not be any Northwoods natives competing this year, the region does have a history in the Olympics.

Land O' Lakes Historical Society President Chris Tews dived into the history surrounding Wendy Lansbach Boglioli and her sister Laurie Lansbach Lehner and their professional swimming success.

A local legend in her own right, Wendy grew up in Land O' Lakes. One of seven children, she started her swimming career like most kids at the local pool.

"The mom, Mary Ellen Lansbach, was actually the force that got the swim team going. Got her children involved, the McCormick children and other local children," Tews said. "And out of that with Mary Ellen as coach, they were actually a pretty good team."

Their team participated in swim meets all over the Northwoods and throughout the state, gaining attention for their record-breaking times.
 
"As the years went by the girls, Wendy and Lauri, took their swimming interest on through into their college years and they continued competing," Tews said. "Then beyond that in the 1976 Summer Olympics and Wendy participated in that."

Wendy earned a gold medal in the record-breaking 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay against the rival Germans, who were later caught doping. She also earned a bronze medal in the 100-meter butterfly.

Wendy's sister Laurie was also successful after college and would have made the 1980 Summer Olympic team if the US hadn't boycotted those Games.

"In 1983 she participated in the Pan American Games, which is competition amongst, you know, teams in the Americas, and she got double gold," Tews said.
 
Upon returning from their successes at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, the Lansbach family was honored.

"One of the side streets of Land O' Lakes the Town named 'Olympic '76 in honor of the Lansbach family, and it was the street on which their family home was," Tews said. "There's also a plaque in our like community garden across from our library that honors Wendy."
 
If you'd like to see the exhibit for yourself, check out the Northern Waters Museum in Land O Lakes.

The museum will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary next Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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