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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's 100 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 29, 1956
Date Finished: November 30, 1956

Gold: AUS Jon Henricks
Silver: AUS John Devitt
Bronze: AUS Gary Chapman
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Summary

At the time of the Helsinki Olympics, Jon Henricks was the up and coming star of Australian distance swimming having won medals at 440 y, 880 y and 1650 y at the national championships. His chances of an Olympic début in 1952 were then ruined by a serious and persistent ear infection that wrecked his chances of making the Australian team.

Henricks reinvented himself as a sprinter in 1953 and soon embarked on a spectacular run of success over the 100 metres or imperial equivalent. He won three gold medals at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1956 and was successful on visits to the USA and Japan as well.

As such, Henricks was the favourite for the title in Melbourne and he lived up to his billing by setting a world record on his way to the Olympic championships. It was, however, a far closer race than anyone had predicted with Henricks being chased by teammate John Devitt until the very end.

Gary Chapman took bronze to compete a clean sweep for Australian on the medal podium – the first time ever Australia had swept any Olympic event. Henricks also had the honour of being the first Australian man to win Olympic gold on home soil.

In a statistical curiosity American swimmers finished in positions 4-5-6 behind the Australians in 1-2-3.

Henricks’ attempt to defend his title in Rome ended in the heats after a debilitating stomach ailment ruined his Olympics.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Jon Henricks 21 Australia AUS Gold WR
2 John Devitt 19 Australia AUS Silver
3 Gary Chapman 19 Australia AUS Bronze
4 Reid Patterson 24 United States USA
5 Dick Hanley 20 United States USA
6 Bill Woolsey 22 United States USA
7 Atsushi Tani 23 Japan JPN
8 Aldo Eminente 25 France FRA
5 h1 r2/3 Hiroshi Suzuki 23 Japan JPN
5 h2 r2/3 Gyula Dobay 19 Hungary HUN
6 h1 r2/3 Vitaly Sorokin 20 Soviet Union URS
6 h2 r2/3 Manabu Koga 21 Japan JPN
7 h1 r2/3 Paolo Pucci 21 Italy ITA
7 h2 r2/3 Paul Voell 21 Germany GER
8 h1 r2/3 Carlo Pedersoli 27 Italy ITA
8 h2 r2/3 Ronald Roberts 33 Great Britain GBR
3 h1 r1/3 Billy Steuart South Africa RSA
4 h1 r1/3 Lev Balandin Soviet Union URS
4 h2 r1/3 Cheung Kin Man 24 Hong Kong HKG
4 h4 r1/3 Haroldo Lara 22 Brazil BRA
5 h1 r1/3 Hans Köhler 20 Germany GER
5 h2 r1/3 Horst Bleeker 18 Germany GER
5 h3 r1/3 Kenneth Williams 19 Great Britain GBR
5 h4 r1/3 Habib Nasution 20 Indonesia INA
5 h5 r1/3 George Park Canada CAN
6 h1 r1/3 Karri Käyhkö 18 Finland FIN
6 h2 r1/3 Sergio Martínez Colombia COL
6 h3 r1/3 Dennis Ford 25 South Africa RSA
6 h4 r1/3 Alex Jany 27 France FRA
6 h5 r1/3 Dakula Arabani Philippines PHI
7 h1 r1/3 André Laurent 25 Belgium BEL
7 h2 r1/3 Peter Duncan 21 South Africa RSA
7 h3 r1/3 Sri Chand Bajaj India IND
7 h5 r1/3 Wan Shiu Ming Hong Kong HKG