Host City: München, West Germany
Venue(s): Swimming Hall, Olympic Park, München
Date Started: August 30, 1972
Date Finished: August 30, 1972
It was eight years since any nation other than the United States had set a world record in this event. But East Germany (GDR) was improving rapidly as a swimming power, at least among the women. The 100 freestyle champion, Sandy Neilson, who had one that gold the day before, led off the final for the USA and put them ahead, but on the second leg, the GDR’s Andrea Eife almost pulled even with [Jennifer Kemp]. After the third leg, the race was a dead-heat, with the anchor swimmers Shirley Babashoff and Kornelia Ender. They would become great rivals, but most of that was in Montréal four years hence. On the final leg, Babashoff had a slight lead going out but almost missed the wall on her turn and Ender took the lead coming home, only to see Babashoff rally and edge her out for the gold medal for the Americans, who finished in a world record 3:55.19.
The biggest shock of the final was the performance of the Australian women, who finished far back in last. No Aussie woman broke a minute for her split, even anchorwoman Shane Gould. So far behind, she appeared to treat it as a warm-up swim for her 400 final, which took place an hour later, and posted a pedestrian 1:01.00.
|5 h1 r1/2||Soviet Union||URS|
|5 h2 r1/2||Japan||JPN|
|6 h1 r1/2||France||FRA|
|6 h2 r1/2||Great Britain||GBR|
|7 h1 r1/2||Mexico||MEX|
|7 h2 r1/2||Italy||ITA|
|8 h1 r1/2||Ireland||IRL|
|8 h2 r1/2||Switzerland||SUI|