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Swimming at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games:

Women's 50 metres Freestyle

Swimming at the 1988 Summer Games: Next Summer Games


Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Indoor Swimming Pool, Olympic Park, Seoul
Date Started: September 25, 1988
Date Finished: September 25, 1988

Gold: GDR Kristin Otto
Silver: CHN Yang Wenyi
Bronze: GDR Katrin Meißner
USA Jill Sterkel


This was the first time that women swam the 50 free at the Olympics, although it had been on the program at the 1986 World Championships. The favorites were China’s [Yang Wenyi], who had set the world record of 24.98 earlier in 1988, and Romania’s [Tamara Costache], the 1986 World Champion and 1987 European Champion, and a three-time world record setter. To date the pool at the Seoul Olympics had been the personal property of East German [Kristin Otto], who had already won five gold medals. She had been second in the 50 free at 86 Worlds, but was considered a longshot in this event.

There were two false starts in the final and some thought that this bothered Yang. She still held the lead with Otto for much of the race, but Otto just touched her out in 25.49, winning her very surprising sixth gold medal in Seoul. Costache was a non-factor, placing sixth. The bronze medals were shared by 15-year-old East German [Katrin Meißner] and the relatively ancient 27-year-old American [Jill Sterkel], who both finished in 25.71. Sterkel had last won an Olympic medal 12 years ago, in Montréal, a gold in the freestyle relay. She had only made the US team when [Angel Myers] was disqualified after the US Olympic Trials for a positive drug test. The fifth-place finisher was another American, [Leigh Ann Fetter], a freshman at the University of Texas, where her assistant coach was Sterkel.

In 1994 it was revealed that Otto had been a part of the long-time East German doping conspiracy as she had been given drugs by her coaches throughout her career. Otto denied any knowledge of this however, and stated that her performances were due not to the drugs, but to her hard work.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinalB FinalRound One

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Kristin Otto 22 East Germany GDR Gold OR
2 Yang Wenyi 16 China CHN Silver
3T Katrin Meißner 15 East Germany GDR Bronze
3T Jill Sterkel 27 United States USA Bronze
5 Leigh Ann Fetter 19 United States USA
6 Tamara Costache 18 Romania ROU
7 Catherine Plewinski 20 France FRA
8 Karen Van Wirdum 17 Australia AUS
9 Marion Aizpors 27 West Germany FRG
10 Christiane Pielke 25 West Germany FRG
11 Marie-Thérèse Armentero 22 Switzerland SUI
12T Kristin Topham 15 Canada CAN
12T Ayako Nakano 15 Japan JPN
14 Inna Abramova 21 Soviet Union URS
15 Karin Brienesse 19 Netherlands NED
16 Diane van der Plaats 17 Netherlands NED
17T Adriana Pereira 24 Brazil BRA
17T Luminiţa Dobrescu 17 Romania ROU
19 Andrea Nugent 19 Canada CAN
20T Gitta Jensen 16 Denmark DEN
20T Kaori Sasaki 17 Japan JPN
22 Xia Fujie 18 China CHN
23 Helena Åberg 17 Sweden SWE
24 Karin Furuhed 21 Sweden SWE
25 Alison Sheppard 15 Great Britain GBR
26 María Rivera 21 Mexico MEX
27 Annabelle Cripps 20 Great Britain GBR
28 Karen Dieffenthaler 20 Trinidad and Tobago TTO
29 Senda Gharbi 21 Tunisia TUN
30 Gillian Thomson 13 Philippines PHI
31 Monica Rezende 19 Brazil BRA OR
32 Patricia Kohlmann 20 Mexico MEX
33 Carolina Mauri 18 Costa Rica CRC OR
34 Han Yeong-Hui 15 South Korea KOR
35 Hung Cee Kay 16 Hong Kong HKG
36 Park Ju-Ri 17 South Korea KOR
37 Bryndís Ólafsdóttir 19 Iceland ISL
38 Ana Fortin 16 Honduras HON
39 Cina Munch 17 Fiji FIJ
40 Catherine Fogarty 17 Zimbabwe ZIM
41 Wang Chi 18 Chinese Taipei TPE
42 Sabrina Lum 17 Chinese Taipei TPE
43 Veronica Cummings 15 Guam GUM
44 Angela Birch 14 Fiji FIJ
45 Tsang Wing Sze 16 Hong Kong HKG
46 Katerine Moreno 14 Bolivia BOL
47 Elsa Freire 14 Angola ANG
48 Carolina Araujo 17 Mozambique MOZ OR
49 Ana Martins 16 Angola ANG
50 Nancy Khalaf 14 Lebanon LIB