Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Bay of Zea, Peiraias
Date Started: April 11, 1896
Date Finished: April 11, 1896
Format: Final only.
A ship transported the swimmers out into the Bay of Piraeus for the start of this event in the open sea. The starting line was placed between two buoys. The swimmers swam towards the shore, where the finish line was marked by a red flag. The course was laid out by a series of hollow pumpkins, which marked it, but which floated and moved on the water, making the course difficult to follow.
The race between Alfréd Hajós and Otto Herschmann was quite close, with Hajós winning by ½ metre. The others were noted to be far behind. Prince Georgios hoisted the Hungarian flag himself and the band began to play the Austrian national anthem, but the Hungarians began to sing “their” national anthem, and the band stopped playing.
Alfréd Hajós began swimming after his father drowned in the Danube. In 1895 he had been European Champion in the 100 metres in Vienna. He later became a member of the Hungarian national football team. In 1924 he won a second Olympic medal in the art contests, winning the designs for town planning class, for the plan of a stadium. In 1953 he was awarded the Olympic Diploma by the IOC for his contributions to the Olympic Ideal.