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Swimming at the 2012 London Summer Games:

Women's 400 metres Individual Medley

Swimming at the 2012 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games

Events:
Phases:

Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): London Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, Stratford, London
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: July 28, 2012

Gold: CHN Ye Shiwen
Silver: USA Elizabeth Beisel
Bronze: CHN Li Xuanxu

Summary

The pre-race favorite was American Elizabeth Beisel, who had won the 2011 World Championship. The defending gold medalist was Australian Steph Rice, but Beisel now had her number. Beisel had the fastest qualifier with 4:31.68 but was followed closely by surprising Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who posted 4:31.73. It was surprising because her PR coming into London was only 4:33.55 from October 2011 and she had improved dramatically within the last year.

The final saw the lead exchanged several times with Hungarian Katinka Hosszú leading on the butterfly and backstroke legs, but Beisel took over on the breaststroke, only to see Ye pass her just before the final stroke change. The final freestyle was all Ye, who came home in 58.68, with the final 50 done in a stunning 28.93, for a world record 4:28.43. This was the first individual world record since the skinsuit era, and was over a second better than Rice's world record set in winning this event in Beijing. Beisel took silver, while Ye's teammate Li Xuanxu came home for the bronze, Hosszú finishing fourth, with Rice back in a tie for fourth with American Caitlin Leverenz.

Ye's victory was not without some controversy, as her finish was stunning, but some thought it was "too good". In his 400 IM gold medal on the same night, Ryan Lochte had finished in only 58.65 for the final 100, and Ye actually outswam him on the final 50, as he posted 29.10. Several American coaches and officials openly said that Ye's mark had to be performance enhanced, though she passed all her drug tests, and the IOC actually had to come to Ye's defense in a press release. It was redolent of the 1976 Olympics when Shirley Babashoff made similar comments about the East German female swimmers, allegations which in that case were eventually proven to be true.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Ye Shiwen 16 China CHN Gold
2 Elizabeth Beisel 19 United States USA Silver
3 Li Xuanxu 18 China CHN Bronze
4 Katinka Hosszú 23 Hungary HUN
5 Hannah Miley 22 Great Britain GBR
6T Steph Rice 24 Australia AUS
6T Caitlin Leverenz 21 United States USA
8 Mireia Belmonte 21 Spain ESP
9 Zsu Jakabos 23 Hungary HUN
10 Anja Klinar 24 Slovenia SLO
11 Aimee Willmott 19 Great Britain GBR
12 Miyu Otsuka 18 Japan JPN
13 Blair Evans 21 Australia AUS
14 Stina Gardell 22 Sweden SWE
15 Barbora Závadová 19 Czech Republic CZE
16 Katheryn Meaklim 23 South Africa RSA
17 Kim Seo-Yeong 18 South Korea KOR
18 Lara Grangeon 20 France FRA
19 Natalie Wiegersma 22 New Zealand NZL
20 Miho Takahashi 19 Japan JPN
21 Stephanie Horner 23 Canada CAN
22 Stefania Pirozzi 18 Italy ITA
23 Jördis Steinegger 29 Austria AUT
24 Yana Martynova 24 Russia RUS
25 Claudia Dasca 17 Spain ESP
26 Hanna Dzerkal 24 Ukraine UKR
27 Andreina Pinto 20 Venezuela VEN
28 Nguyễn Thị Ánh Viên 15 Vietnam VIE
29 Susana Escobar 24 Mexico MEX
30 Sara Nordenstam 29 Norway NOR
31 Karolina Szczepaniak 19 Poland POL
32 Sara El-Bekri 25 Morocco MAR
33 Noora Laukkanen 19 Finland FIN
34 Georgina Bardach 28 Argentina ARG
35 Anum Bandey 15 Pakistan PAK