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Swimming at the 1936 Berlin Summer Games:

Women's 400 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Berlin, Germany
Venue(s): Swimming Stadium, Imperial Sports Field, Berlin
Date Started: August 13, 1936
Date Finished: August 15, 1936

Gold: NED Rie Mastenbroek
Silver: DEN Ragnhild Hveger
Bronze: USA Lenore Kight-Wingard

Summary

Fourteen year old Ragnhild Hveger had set the first of her 42 world records early in 1936 and although that record was for the 800m she had emerged as a strong contender for the Olympic title. This was confirmed by her heat swim in which she broke the Olympic record. Waiting for Hveger in the final however was the 100m champion, Rie Mastenbroek. Hveger pushed out to a lead and tried to shake off the presence of the Dutch swimmer but it was to no avail and Mastenbroek sprinted ahead with less than ten metres left to win her third gold of the Games. Mastenbroek later told of an incident that happened during before one of the earlier races of the Games. Hveger was handing out chocolates to some of the other swimmers but not to Mastenbroek. This angered the Dutchwoman who was determined to get her “revenge” in the 400m race.

Hveger would go on to dominate the European Championships in London in 1938 and set world bests at both freestyle and backstroke before her retirement. Coming out of retirement to compete in the Helsinki she was still good enough at the age of 32 to reach the final of the 400 metre freestyle. Judging by the times she recorded it is possible that if she competed between 1940 and 1948 her medal tally may have been in double figures.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Rie Mastenbroek 17 Netherlands NED Gold OR
2 Ragnhild Hveger 15 Denmark DEN Silver
3 Lenore Kight-Wingard 24 United States USA Bronze
4 Mary Lou Petty 21 United States USA
5 Piedade Coutinho-Tavares 16 Brazil BRA
6 Kazue Kojima 19 Japan JPN
7 Grete Frederiksen 18 Denmark DEN
8 Tini Wagner 16 Netherlands NED
5 h1 r2/3 Irma Schrameková 24 Czechoslovakia TCH
5 h2 r2/3 Louisette Fleuret 17 France FRA
6 h1 r2/3 Hatsuko Morioka 21 Japan JPN
6 h2 r2/3 Ans Timmermans 17 Netherlands NED
7 h1 r2/3 Borbála Sóthy 19 Hungary HUN
7 h2 r2/3 Inger Carlsen 18 Denmark DEN
8 h2 r2/3 Margaret Jeffrey 16 Great Britain GBR
4 h1 r1/3 Gladys Morcom 17 Great Britain GBR
4 h5 r1/3 Ágnes Bíró 18 Hungary HUN
5 h1 r1/3 Vera Harsányi 16 Hungary HUN
5 h3 r1/3 Evelyn de Lacy 18 Australia AUS
5 h5 r1/3 Scylla Venâncio 19 Brazil BRA