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Swimming at the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Women's 400 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 11, 1932
Date Finished: August 13, 1932

Gold: USA Helene Madison
Silver: USA Lenore Kight-Wingard
Bronze: RSA Jenny Maakal


Already the winner of two gold medals at the Games, [Helene Madison] was the world record holder at this event and when the reigning Olympic silver medallist, [Zus Braun], was forced to withdraw from competition, Madison’s victory seemed to be assured. The final turned out to be far closer than anybody anticipated and on a par with the men’s event at the same games. For the majority of the race Madison and her team-mate, [Lenore Kight], swam in procession, with Madison always holding a slender lead, but with 100 metres to go, Kight made her move and overtook Madison. Madison responded to Kight’s efforts and the two women battled down their final length of the pool. Madison timed her finish well and touched the wall ahead of Kight, the clock showing a tenth of a second divided the two Americans with [Jenny Maakal] of South Africa a full twenty seconds further back. Kight had a poor turning technique which may have contributed to her defeat. This was the final race of Madison’s brief career and she celebrated her victory at a party attended by Hollywood celebrities, she would even dance with Clark Gable. The circumstances of Marie Braun’s withdrawal due to illness are shrouded in mystery. By the time of the final the Dutchwoman was in hospital and seriously ill with blood poisoning after an infection officially caused by a mosquito bite. However Braun herself was convinced she was the victim of a deliberate attempt to remove her from contention as part of a possible betting coup.

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