Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Venue(s): Bernat Picornell Pools, Barcelona
Date Started: July 26, 1992
Date Finished: July 26, 1992
As of 1991 this event looked to be a contest between China’s [Lin Li], the 1991 World Champion, and American [Summer Sanders], 1991 World runner-up, and 1991 Pan Pac Champion. But Hungary’s backstroke champion [Krisztina Egerszegi] threw a monkey wrench into the works at the 1991 Europeans when she swam this event for the first time internationally, and won gold at that meet. The final would come down to these three battling it out in one of the great IMs in history.
Sanders started it by leading on her specialty, the butterfly leg, but then Egerszegi surged ahead on her specialty, the backstroke, leading by over 1½ seconds at 200 metres. Sanders went ahead again at the end of the breaststroke, as Lin closed on the duo. But Egerszegi had the most left. She took the lead just before the final turn and held it on the last lap to win the gold medal in 4:36.54. Lin also passed Sanders, finishing in 4:36.73, as Sanders’ bronze medal winning time of 4:37.58 was still six seconds ahead of fourth-placed Australian [Hayley Lewis]. The medal-winning times were the third, fourth, and fifth fastest performances of all-time, trailing only the world record from 1982 by East German [Petra Schneider] (4:36.10) and her 1980 Olympic winning time of 4:36.29.