Biographies | Wendy Wyland
Wendy Wyland was an Olympic medal-winning diver who spent parts of her life in the Rochester area, contributing to the community as the head swimming and diving coach at the Rochester Institute of Technology and as head of the Webster Aquatic Center. Even though she didn’t live in Rochester for all her life, she still made important contributions to both the greater Rochester and specifically the Webster community.
Wendy Wyland was born on November 25th, 1964 in Jackson, Michigan. When she was 6 years old her family moved to Penfield, New York where she competed in diving and swimming for Penfield’s school and club teams. When Wyland was in 8th grade she petitioned Penfield High School to let her participate in the girls’ varsity swimming team, but the school denied it on the grounds that she was still in junior high. Even at a young age, it was clear that she was an extremely talented diver. Legendary Penfield coach Betty Perkins-Carpenter said, “she was doing dives that senior divers weren’t doing yet when she was just 12.” When she was 14 she made the decision to move to Mission Viejo, California to compete with the Mission Viejo Nadadores diving team and train with International Swimming Hall of Fame diving coach Ron O’Brien. After she finished high school she went on to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. While there, she continued to train under O’Brien and further developed her diving skills.
Over the next few years, Wyland had great success in competition. She won a gold medal in the 10-meter platform at the 1982 world championships, as well as a gold medal in the 10-meter platform and a silver medal in the 3-meter springboard at the 1983 Pan American games. As a result of Wyland’s domination in these competitions, Wyland was named Swimming World’s World Platform Diver of the Year in 1982 and 1983. The next year Wyland finished third in platform diving at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics behind gold medalist Zhou Jihong of China and Michele Mitchell of the United States. Shoulder injuries forced her to sit out most of the 1985 season, but Wyland competed in the 1986 World Championships, winning a bronze in the platform. In 2001 Wendy Wyland was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame for her accomplishments as a diver.
After Wyland’s diving career ended she moved back to Rochester, New York where she was head swimming and diving coach at the Rochester Institute of Technology. From January to June 2002 she was the aquatic director of the Webster Aquatics Center. During her tenure there she oversaw the collection of donations for the development of the pool. She also prepared the aquatics center for its grand opening, planning a number of events such as synchronized swimming demonstrations and swim lessons. Even though she was only there for six months, her work was successful and the aquatics center is still in operation today.
Wyland died suddenly and unexpectedly on September 27, 2003, at the age of 38. She had been suffering from severe migraines over the last two years, and despite an autopsy, the exact cause of her death was never clear. Wyland was buried in the Webster Union Cemetery in Webster, New York. Wendy Wyland may also have been referred to as Wendy VanDerWoude or Wendy Wyland VanDerWoude, which is her married name. Wendy Wyland had a very successful diving career starting at a very young age, and this success carried into adulthood where she won an Olympic medal, and won medals in many other high-level competitions. When she moved back to Rochester she connected strongly to the community as head coach of the RIT swimming and diving team and aquatic director at the Webster Aquatics Center, which is still thriving today.
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- Sorenson, Mike, Ed., The Webster Herald, April 10, 2002, Page 15. https://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn82007246/2002-04-10/ed-1/seq-15/