Born: May 29th, 1959
Hometown: Pointe-Claire, QC
Coaches: Dave Johnson, Tony Dew, Lou Kozelj, Bill Burke, Maddie Allerton, Al Brodeur, George Gate, Randy Reese
1974 Commonwealth Games, Christchurch Silver 400 Freestyle 4:22.96
1978 Commonwealth Games, Edmonton Gold 100 Butterfly 1:01.92
1978 Commonwealth Games, Edmonton Gold 4×100 Freestyle Relay 3:50.28
1978 Commonwealth Games, Edmonton Gold 4×100 Medley Relay 4:15.26
1978 Commonwealth Games, Edmonton Silver 200 Butterfly 2:13.65
1978 Commonwealth Games, Edmonton Bronze 100 Freestyle 58.41
1978 World Championships, Berlin Bronze 100 Butterfly 1:01.82
1978 World Championships, Berlin Bronze 4×100 Freestyle Relay 3:49.59
1979 Pan Am Games, San Juan Silver 4×100 Freestyle Relay 3:50.18
1979 Pan Am Games, San Juan Bronze 400 Freestyle 4:17.34
She won World Championships, Pan American and Commonwealth Games medals, but Wendy Quirk’s biggest thrill was swimming at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Quirk was just 17 when she climbed on the starting blocks in an Olympics in her hometown. Family and friends, some from as far away as England, were watching in the crowd.
“Montreal had to be the highlight,’’ said Quirk. “I grew up there and saw the Olympic structures being built from the ground up”, right next to one of the swimming pools that she competed in as a youngster.
Quirk didn’t march in the opening ceremonies since she was racing the next day, but she remembers walking with the team from the village over to the Olympic stadium.
“To hear the crowd cheering so loud when the team started coming down the tunnel, it was something that is really hard to describe,’’ she said.
Quirk finished fifth in the 200 butterfly, sixth in the 100 butterfly and ninth in both the 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle. Although slightly disappointed she did not earn any medals – at that time just competing at the Games was enough. Quirk believed she would race at another Olympics.
“The Montreal Games was a pretty proud time to be Canadian and experience that,’’ she said.
The year following the Olympics Quirk swam at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and in that one year NCAA career she received five All-American honours.
When the 1978 Commonwealth Games were held in Edmonton, Quirk’s mother rode the bus from Montreal to watch. Her daughter didn’t disappoint, winning five medals in those Games. Her victory in the 100 fly came after she barely qualified for the final. “I had a lane,’’ she said. “That’s all I needed.’’
A couple of weeks later, at the World Championships in West Berlin, Quirk won bronze in the 100 butterfly and 4×100 freestyle relay. She was back on the podium at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan winning silver in the 4×100 freestyle and bronze in the 400 freestyle.
Her dreams of racing at another Olympics were destroyed when Canada joined the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.
“A lot of athletes live in an ideal world,’’ said Quirk. “You don’t think you should have to worry about world politics. To have somebody else making those kind of decisions, playing with our future, when we knew it wasn’t going to make an iota of difference to the Russian government, we thought it was kind of a fruitless gesture.’’
Quirk went on to set several Canadian records in the summer of 1980, including her very last race (200 Butterfly)