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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Women's 100 metres Freestyle

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Events:
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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: December 1, 1956

Gold: AUS Dawn Fraser
Silver: AUS Lorraine Crapp
Bronze: AUS Faith Leech

Summary

For 20 years the time set in early 1936 by the Dutch swimmer Willy den Ouden remained unchallenged as the world record. Once broken by 18-year-old Australian Dawn Fraser in February 1956 it was broken over and over again in the next eight months by a trio of teenagers. Cocki van Engelsdorp Gastelaars held the record for the Northern hemisphere summer, Fraser regained it before the youngest of three, 17-year-old Lorraine Crapp, set a new mark at the Australian selection trials. The stage was set for the three women to produce an epic race in Melbourne but it would not fully take place as Gastelaars was a victim of the Dutch boycott of the 1956 Games.

In the absence of the Dutchwoman the event turned into a bonanza for the host nation of Australia.

As expected, Fraser and Crapp contested the gold medal with the pair forcing each other to go faster than they’d ever gone before in pursuit of the title. Both swam inside the existing world record but it was Fraser who was crowned Olympic champion. Faith Leech, at only 15 years of age, completed an Australian sweep of the medals, which matched what happened in the men’s equivalent race 24 hours earlier.

This was the first of a sequence of 3 successive championships in the event for Fraser and the first of her eight Olympic medals.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Dawn Fraser 19 Australia AUS Gold WR
2 Lorraine Crapp 18 Australia AUS Silver
3 Faith Leech 15 Australia AUS Bronze
4 Joan Rosazza 19 United States USA
5 Virginia Grant Canada CAN
6 Shelley Mann 19 United States USA
7 Marrion Roe 21 New Zealand NZL
8 Natalie Myburgh 16 South Africa RSA
5 h1 r2/3 Valéria Gyenge 23 Hungary HUN
5 h2 r2/3 Nancy Simons 18 United States USA
6 h1 r2/3 Zsuzsa Ördög 16 Hungary HUN
6 h2 r2/3 Kate Jobson 19 Sweden SWE
7 h1 r2/3 Helen Stewart Canada CAN
7 h2 r2/3 Susan Roberts 17 South Africa RSA
8 h1 r2/3 Birgit Klomp 16 Germany GER
8 h2 r2/3 Jeanette Myburgh 16 South Africa RSA
2 h2 r1/3 Katalin Szőke 21 Hungary HUN
3 h2 r1/3 Kati Jansen 22 Germany GER
4 h2 r1/3 Odile Vouaux France FRA
4 h3 r1/3 Héda Frost 20 France FRA
5 h1 r1/3 Anita Hellström 16 Sweden SWE
5 h2 r1/3 Fearne Ewart 20 Great Britain GBR
5 h3 r1/3 Blanca Barrón 22 Mexico MEX
5 h4 r1/3 Christel Steffin 16 Germany GER
5 h5 r1/3 Frances Hogben 19 Great Britain GBR
6 h1 r1/3 Irène Sweyd 16 Belgium BEL
6 h2 r1/3 Setsuko Shimada 18 Japan JPN
6 h3 r1/3 Yoshiko Sato 18 Japan JPN
6 h4 r1/3 Hitomi Jinno 19 Japan JPN
6 h5 r1/3 Ginette Jany-Sendral 24 France FRA
7 h1 r1/3 Winifred Griffin 24 New Zealand NZL
7 h3 r1/3 Gertrudes Lozada Philippines PHI
7 h4 r1/3 Gladys Priestley 18 Canada CAN
7 h5 r1/3 Shoshana Rivner 18 Israel ISR
8 h1 r1/3 Margaret Northrop 22 Kenya KEN