Host City: Moskva, Soviet Union
Date Started: July 20, 1980
Date Finished: July 27, 1980
Participants: 333 (190 men and 143 women) from 41 countries
Youngest Participant: Jorge Lima (13 years, 8 days)
Oldest Participant: Nguyễn Mạnh Tuấn (33 years, 49 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Ines Diers (5 medals)
Most Medals (Country): East Germany (30 medals)
The American-led boycott decimated the 1980 swimming events, especially on the men’s side, as it deprived the 1980 Olympics of the strongest men’s swimming nation – the United States. However, Australia was also very strong in the men’s events and it elected to compete. On the women’s side the US women were now surpassed by the woman of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (East Germany), but the US would have been a contender in multiple events. One American woman was especially missed in 1980 – Mary T. Meagher – who was considered the greatest butterfly swimmer ever and was called “Madame Butterfly.”
The events were held at the Swimming Pool at the Olimpiysky Sports Complex, which was specially built for the 1980 Olympics. It is still used as a swimming pool and hosted the 2002 Short Course World Championships. The program was the same as in 1976, with 13 events for both men and women.
The GDR led both medal lists, with 12 golds and 30 medals, followed by the Soviet Union, who won 8 golds and 22 medals. The Soviet Union led the men’s list with 7 golds and 17 medals, while the GDR women won 11 of 13 medals and 26 of 39 medals.
Four swimmers won three gold medals in 1980 – East German women Caren Metschuck, Barbara Krause, and Rica Reinisch; and Soviet Vladimir Salnikov among the men. East German Ines Diers won five medals while Metschuck won four.