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Swimming at the 1976 Montréal Summer Games:

Women's 200 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Montréal, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Pool, Montréal, Québec
Date Started: July 22, 1976
Date Finished: July 22, 1976

Gold: GDR Kornelia Ender
Silver: USA Shirley Babashoff
Bronze: NED Enith Brigitha

Summary

[Shirley Babashoff] had won this event at the 1975 World Championships but in June 1976, the GDR’s [Kornelia Ender] became the first woman to swim 200 metres in under two minutes, breaking the world record in Berlin in 1:59.78. On the night of the 200 final, Ender won the 100 metre butterfly gold medal, finishing at 1948. She received her gold medal for that event at 2001, and seven minutes later was back on the pool deck for the 200 freestyle final.

Ender had a new plan for the final. At the 1975 World she had taken it out hard and died on the final 100 to allow Babashoff to pass her the title. In Montréal she let Babashoff take the lead through 100 metres, and they were virtually even at 150. Then Ender turned on the jets, finishing the final 50 in 28.88, almost as fast as her opening 50 of 28.63, and beating Babashoff with another world record of 1:59.26. Dutchwoman [Enith Brigitha] placed third, as she had in the 100 freestyle a few days before. Ender would finish the Montréal Olympics with four gold medals, and one silver, added to the three silvers she had won in Munich, when she was only 13-years-old.