Host City: Berlin, Germany
Venue(s): Swimming Stadium, Imperial Sports Field, Berlin
Date Started: August 11, 1936
Date Finished: August 13, 1936
The first sensation of this event happened before one of the potential medallists had even set foot in Germany. [Eleanor Holm], the glamorous American who had won this event in Los Angeles, was removed from the US team because of her behaviour on the boat bringing her from America. She was accused, amongst other charges, of being blind drunk following a party. Holm was still present in the Olympic swimming stadium but only covering the Games for a press agency.
Even if Holm had participated the favourite would still have been the Netherlandsâ [Rie Mastenbreok], who held the world record. As the competition progressed it was Mastenbroekâs sixteen year old team-mate [Nida Senff] who proved to be the star performer, she set the fastest times in both heats and semi-finals as Mastenbroekâs more extensive schedule perhaps weighed against her. The final seemed to have been decided when Senff built up an apparently unassailable lead at halfway but she made what appeared to be a disastrous error and failed to touch the wall. Rather than risk disqualification she turned round and went back but dropped from first to sixth. Mastenbroek moved ahead of the pack but she clipped the lane dividers and lost enough time for Senff to close back on her. With twenty metres left Senff edged into the lead and held on to win the championship.