Host City: Roma, Italy
Venue(s): Olympic Swimming Stadium, Roma
Date Started: September 2, 1960
Date Finished: September 3, 1960
Australia had won this event in 1956 and in August 1960, an Australian team bettered the world record with 4:16.2. It was expected that they would contest the gold medal with the United States. Australia was led off by Dawn Fraser, the greatest women’s sprinter ever, and she put them into the lead. The third leg came down to Lorraine Crapp for Australia against 14-year-old Carolyn Wood of the USA, who had failed to finish the 100 butterfly final when she gulped too much water on the final lap. Crapp had her own problems in Rome, as she had secretly married Bill Thurlow, an Australian team doctor, the night before the team left for Rome. This was not allowed and when it was discovered it was scandalous to the Australians, and Crapp was closely watched during the Rome Games. For whatever reason, Crapp swam poorly in the relay, Wood outdistancing her by 2.7 seconds and handing a big lead to American anchor Chris von Saltza, who had no difficulty maintaining it to win in world record time of 4:08.9, almost seven seconds better than the previous mark.