Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Pool, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 21, 1968
Date Finished: October 22, 1968
Australia’s [Ian O’Brien] had won this event in 1964 in world record time, and that time still stood until April 1968 when [Vladimir Kosinsky] of the Soviet Union bettered it. O’Brien was in Mexico City but did not qualify for the final. The home country placed their hopes on [Felipe Muñoz], who was considered a long-shot to win, but hoped to challenge for a medal. Muñoz had the fastest qualifying time with 2:31.1, followed by the United States’ [Brian Job] with 2:31.5, far from Kosinsky’s world record of 2:27.4, but altitude made it difficult in all the 200 metres or longer races. Kosinsky led the final at the first turn, trailed by the GDR’s [Egon Henninger] and Job. Kosinsky kept the lead through 150 metres, but Henninger and [Nikolay Pankin] moved up close, although Job stayed in second place. Muñoz was in fifth but closing and the Mexican fans started going crazy as he gained on Kosinsky, passing Pankin off the final turn. Muñoz caught Kosinsky at 175 metres and pulled away only in the final metres to win, 2:28.7 to 2:29.2. It was Mexico’s first gold medal of the 1968 Olympics, and their first ever swimming gold medal. Brian Job held on for the bronze medal. Muñoz would return in 1972 and place fifth in the final of the 200 breast.