Host City: St. Louis, United States
Venue(s): Life Saving Exhibition Lake, Forest Park, St. Louis
Date Started: September 6, 1904
Date Finished: September 6, 1904
|Gold:||Zoltán von Halmay|
The 50-yard freestyle was won by Zoltán von Halmay of Hungary after a swim off with America's Scott Leary. It was a very controversial race. There were two heats contested, one by von Halmay and Leary. Six athletes, five Americans and von Halmay, competed in the finals on 6 September. The St. Louis Globe Democrat reported the results of that final as follows, "Scarcely had the men finished than Leary threw up his arms in the air and yelled to the officials on the float and in the stands 'Foul.' As soon as he could swim to the float, he did so and claimed that Halmay interfered with him near the finish and tried to pull him back. While it was acknowledged that Halmay's course was the strongest in the world, all thoughts of his attempting to deliberately foul Leary were cast to the winds and the foul was disallowed.
"Up in the stands, however, the judges weren't able to decide who won the event. One of the judges, a Hungarian, began to call Halmay the winner before he was within three yards of the finish and finally selected his countryman as the winner. On the other hand the judges trying to pick the second man selected Halmay for that place and finally when the judges could not pick a winner the heat was ordered to be run over."