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Wendy Wyland VanDerWoude

WEBSTER, N.Y. -- Wendy Wyland VanDerWoude, the 1984 Olympic bronze medalist platform diver and 1982 world champion, died Saturday. She was 38.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Mrs. VanDerWoude's father, Vernon Wyland, said she had been suffering from migraine headaches and seizures for almost two years.

"She kept saying, `I'm going to beat this thing,' " Wyland said.

Wyland said his daughter went to work Saturday at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she was head swimming and diving coach. She fell ill and was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Mrs. VanDerWoude moved from her native Penfield, N.Y., to Mission Viejo, Calif., when she was 14 to train under coach Ron O'Brien.

In the 1982 Quayaquil World Championship, she won the gold medal in the 10-meter platform. In the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, she won a gold medal in platform and captured silver in 3-meter springboard diving.

A favorite in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Mrs. VanDerWoude finished third in the 10-meter platform behind China's Zhou Jihong and Michele Mitchell of the United States.

Shoulder injuries forced her to sit out most of the 1985 season, but she competed in the 1986 Madrid World Championships, winning a bronze in the 10-meter platform behind Chen Lin and Lu Wei, both from China.

Mrs. VanDerWoude, named one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people in 1990, was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame the following year.

"She was like Babe [Didrikson] Zaharias. She was a natural athlete, an awesome athlete," Betty Perkins-Carpenter told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Perkins-Carpenter, one of her first trainers, became a close friend. "She was doing dives that senior divers weren't doing yet when she was just 12.

"She could have been a champion in any of her sports," she said.

In addition to her father, Mrs. VanDerWoude leaves her husband, David; a daughter, Abigayle; a stepdaughter, Carley; her mother, Beth; a brother, Mark, and two sisters, Jill and Gayle.

Memorial arrangements are pending.

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