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Swimming at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres Individual Medley

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Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Swim Stadium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: July 30, 1984
Date Finished: July 30, 1984

Gold: CAN Alex Baumann
Silver: BRA Ricardo Prado
Bronze: AUS Rob Woodhouse

Summary

Sidelined by a shoulder injury in 1982, Canadian Alex Baumann had to watch as the World Championships were held, and Brazil’s Ricardo Prado won the title and set the world record of 4:19.78. But Baumann improved later that year and won gold in both IMs at the 1982 Commonwealth Games. Early in 1984, East German Jens-Peter Berndt broke Prado’s world record in Magdeburg, recording 4:19.61, only to see Baumann improve that at the Canadian Olympic Trials in June, with 4:17.53. Berndt was out, a victim of the Soviet-led boycott, but Prado was in Los Angeles, as was American Jesse Vassallo, once the world best in this event, holding the world mark from 1978-82, but now past his best.

In the final Prado led after the first two legs, with Baumann still 1.7 seconds back at 200 metres, with Vassallo. But Baumann outswam Prado by three seconds on the breaststroke to take the lead, as Vassallo fell back. Baumann held on in the freestyle, and won with a world record 4:17.41, over a second ahead of Prado, as the bronze medal went to the surprising Australian Rob Woodhouse.

A few weeks later Berndt won the Friendship Games in 4:18.29. On 7 January 1985, after swimming at a meet in Arkansas, Berndt defected to the United States at the Oklahoma City airport, and would later swim for West Germany at the 1988 Olympics. Baumann had known similar circumstances. Born in Czechoslovakia, he and his family were in New Zealand in 1968 when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague to crush Czech resistance. The family decided not to return to their native land, and settled in Sudbury, Ontario, where Baumann grew up and became the world’s greatest all-around swimmer.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Alex Baumann 20 Canada CAN Gold WR
2 Ricardo Prado 19 Brazil BRA Silver
3 Rob Woodhouse 18 Australia AUS Bronze
4 Jesse Vassallo 22 United States USA
5 Maurizio Divano 22 Italy ITA
6 Jeff Kostoff 18 United States USA
7 Steve Poulter 23 Great Britain GBR
8 Giovanni Franceschi 21 Italy ITA
9 Anders Peterson 19 Sweden SWE
10 Andrew Phillips 22 Jamaica JAM
11 Arne Borgstrøm 25 Norway NOR
12 Ralf Diegel 20 West Germany FRG
13 Shinji Ito 21 Japan JPN
14 Peter Dobson 21 Canada CAN
15 Stuart Willmott 20 Great Britain GBR
16 Yoram Kochavy 21 Israel ISR
17 Scott Newkirk 23 United States Virgin Islands ISV
18 Jairulla Jaitulla 30 Philippines PHI
19 Harry Wozniak 20 Barbados BAR
20 Ng Wing Hon 17 Hong Kong HKG
21 Julian Bolling 18 Sri Lanka SRI
22 Wu Ming-Hsun 16 Chinese Taipei TPE
23 Juan José Piro Honduras HON