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Swimming at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's 4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): Francisco Márquez Olympic Swimming Pool, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 21, 1968
Date Finished: October 21, 1968

Gold: USA United States
Silver: AUS Australia
Bronze: URS Soviet Union

Summary

Let’s see – the United States would swim Mark Spitz on the third leg, the man who would soon become known as the greatest swimmer ever (at least until Michael Phelps), and then would anchor with Don Schollander, possibly the greatest ever 200 metre freestyler, based on multiple world record performances. That didn’t seem to give anyone else too much chance. In the heats the USA put out their junior varsity and still qualified first for the final. Frank Wiegand of East Germany actually led the first leg over John Nelson of the USA, 1:58.4 to 1:58.6, but on the second leg Steve Rerych put the Americans ahead and gave the lead to Spitz. But Spitz was tired from the effects of the altitude in Mexico City and swam a lackluster 2:00.5, almost being caught by Australia’s Bob Windle. The anchor leg matched Schollander against Mike Wenden, who had already won the 100 freestyle in Mexico City, and would add to that the 200 free in three days. Wenden gained a small amount on Schollander but not nearly enough as the USA won gold in a much closer race than was expected, with Australia second and the Soviet Union well back in third. The United States’ world and Olympic record of 7:52.1 survived this race, likely due to the effects of altitude.

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 United States USA Gold
2 Australia AUS Silver
3 Soviet Union URS Bronze
4 Canada CAN
5 France FRA
6 West Germany FRG
7 East Germany GDR
8 Sweden SWE
3 h3 r1/2 Japan JPN
4 h1 r1/2 Great Britain GBR
4 h2 r1/2 Netherlands NED
4 h3 r1/2 Spain ESP
5 h1 r1/2 Colombia COL
5 h2 r1/2 Philippines PHI
6 h1 r1/2 Puerto Rico PUR
AC h3 r1/2 Mexico MEX DQ