Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Swimming Stadium, Djurgården Bay, Stockholm
Date Started: July 9, 1912
Date Finished: July 13, 1912
In an era when the United States did not contest an outdoor backstroke championship, [Harry Hebner] still dominated American backstroking. Over the indoor distance of 150 yards, he was national champion from 1910-1916. He rarely raced over 100 metres or the Imperial equivalent of 110 yards, but he held the American records for both 100 and 150 yards. The world record at the beginning of 1912 was held by Hungary’s [András Baronyi], who had posted 1:18.8 at Budapest on 17 July 1911. But the world record was broken twice before the Stockholm Olympics, first by Germany’s [Oscar Schiele] with 1:18.4 at Brussels on 6 April, and then the mark was destroyed by Germany’s [Otto Fahr], with 1:15.6 at Magdeburg on 29 April. Schiele was in Stockholm and competed in this event, but he was disqualified in heat one of round one.
Fahr’s world record was not threatened in any round. But the final came down to him and Hebner. After a false start, Hebner took an early lead and held off Fahr to win by slightly over one second. The Official Report noted, “Hebner, who kept his head well out of the water and was able to observe his opponents during the whole of the race, won without any difficulty.”