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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Women's 400 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: December 5, 1956
Date Finished: December 7, 1956

Gold: AUS Lorraine Crapp
Silver: AUS Dawn Fraser
Bronze: USA Sylvia Ruuska
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Summary

In preparation races for the Melbourne Olympics Lorraine Crapp broke the world record, set by Ragnhild Hveger of Denmark in 1940. As in the 100 m freestyle that was contested a few days earlier, Crapp’s main rival was fellow countrywoman Dawn Fraser, but over the longer distance Crapp was favoured to reverse the result of the earlier race and become Olympic champion.

The final matched the popular prediction with Fraser leading the race in the early stages before the superior stamina of Crapp became the decisive factor. Crapp won the gold medal with a huge margin of eight seconds to spare over Fraser with 14-year-old Californian Sylvia Ruuska finishing third.

All three medallists would compete in 1960 in Rome although only Fraser would compete outside a relay.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Lorraine Crapp 18 Australia AUS Gold OR
2 Dawn Fraser 19 Australia AUS Silver
3 Sylvia Ruuska 14 United States USA Bronze
4 Marley Shriver 19 United States USA
5 Ripszima Székely 20 Hungary HUN
6 Sandra Morgan 14 Australia AUS
7 Héda Frost 20 France FRA
8 Valéria Gyenge 23 Hungary HUN
2 h4 r1/2 Susan Gray 17 United States USA
3 h1 r1/2 Karin Larsson 15 Sweden SWE
3 h2 r1/2 Ingrid Künzel 18 Germany GER
3 h4 r1/2 Natalie Myburgh 16 South Africa RSA
4 h1 r1/2 Beth Whittall 20 Canada CAN
4 h2 r1/2 Gladys Priestley 18 Canada CAN
4 h3 r1/2 Susan Roberts 17 South Africa RSA
4 h4 r1/2 Marrion Roe 21 New Zealand NZL
5 h1 r1/2 Winifred Griffin 24 New Zealand NZL
5 h2 r1/2 Anita Hellström 16 Sweden SWE
5 h3 r1/2 Colette Thomas 27 France FRA
5 h4 r1/2 Margaret Girvan 24 Great Britain GBR
6 h1 r1/2 Gertrudes Lozada Philippines PHI
6 h2 r1/2 Viviane Gouverneur France FRA
6 h3 r1/2 Birgitta Wängberg 16 Sweden SWE
6 h4 r1/2 Gilda Aranda Mexico MEX
7 h3 r1/2 Eiko Wada 17 Japan JPN
7 h4 r1/2 Yukiko Otaka 16 Japan JPN