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Swimming at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games:

Men's 100 metres Backstroke

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Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Helsinki Swimming Stadium, Helsinki
Date Started: July 30, 1952
Date Finished: August 1, 1952

Gold: USA Yoshi Oyakawa
Silver: FRA Gilbert Bozon
Bronze: USA Jack Taylor


Earlier in 1952 the world record had been traded between the Frenchman Gilbert Bozon and the man who had won the title in London, America’s Allan Stack. By the time the Helsinki Games came around the man in the best form turned out to be another American, the Japanese-Hawaiian Yoshi Oyakawa. Oyakawa recorded the fastest times at all stages of the competition and broke the Olympic record, which had stood since 1936, in both semi-final and final. A minor piece of history occurred in heat 5 of the first round when the Soviet Union’s Leonid Sagayduk raced against the sole Chinese competitor in Helsinki, Wu Chuanyu. The rest of the Chinese team had been stranded in Leningrad due to a visa problem and were unable to reach Helsinki. It was not until thirty-six years later in Seoul that competitors from these two countries would meet again at a Summer Olympics.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Yoshi Oyakawa 18 United States USA Gold OR
2 Gilbert Bozon 17 France FRA Silver
3 Jack Taylor 21 United States USA Bronze
4 Allen Stack 24 United States USA
5 Pedro Galvão 18 Argentina ARG
6 Bert Wardrop 20 Great Britain GBR
7 Boris Škanata 25 Yugoslavia YUG
8 Lin Meiring 18 South Africa RSA
5 h1 r2/3 John Brockway 23 Great Britain GBR
5 h2 r2/3 Viktor Solovyov Soviet Union URS
6 h1 r2/3 Fernando Pavan 19 Brazil BRA
6 h2 r2/3 João Gonçalves Filho 17 Brazil BRA
7 h1 r2/3 Lincoln Hurring 20 New Zealand NZL
7 h2 r2/3 Egidio Massaria 26 Italy ITA
8 h1 r2/3 Lucien Zins 29 France FRA
2 h2 r1/3 Yasumasu Nishino 27 Japan JPN
2 h7 r1/3 Ilo da Fonseca 21 Brazil BRA
3 h2 r1/3 Clemente Mejía 23 Mexico MEX
4 h1 r1/3 Norihiko Kurahashi 19 Japan JPN
4 h2 r1/3 Helmut Koppelstätter 22 Austria AUT
4 h3 r1/3 Ladislav Bačík 18 Czechoslovakia TCH
4 h4 r1/3 Jitse van der Veen 23 Netherlands NED
4 h5 r1/3 Leonid Sagayduk Soviet Union URS
4 h6 r1/3 László Gyöngyösi Hungary HUN
5 h1 r1/3 Vladimir Lopatin Soviet Union URS
5 h2 r1/3 Hermann Gericke 20 Switzerland SUI
5 h3 r1/3 Imre Nyéki 23 Hungary HUN
5 h4 r1/3 Bijoy Barman 23 India IND
5 h5 r1/3 Wu Chuanyu 23 China CHN
5 h6 r1/3 Frank O'Neill 25 Australia AUS
6 h1 r1/3 Lucien Beaumont 21 Canada CAN
6 h2 r1/3 Jerzy Boniecki 19 Poland POL
6 h3 r1/3 Peter Salmon 22 Canada CAN
6 h5 r1/3 Eduardo Barbeiro 20 Portugal POR
6 h6 r1/3 Erkki Marttinen 26 Finland FIN
7 h1 r1/3 Khamlillal Shah 31 India IND
7 h2 r1/3 Eurico Surgey 20 Portugal POR
7 h3 r1/3 Tom Pettersen 17 Norway NOR