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Swimming at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres Freestyle

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Events:

Host City: Helsinki, Finland
Venue(s): Helsinki Swimming Stadium, Helsinki
Date Started: July 28, 1952
Date Finished: July 30, 1952

Gold: FRA Jean Boiteux
Silver: USA Ford Konno
Bronze: SWE Per-Olof Östrand

Summary

Along with the returning 1948 medallists [John Marshall] and [Jimmy McLane], McLane’s American compatriot [Ford Konno], Sweden’s [Per-Olof Östrand], [Hironoshin Furuhashi] of Japan and the Frenchman [Jean Boiteux] were tipped to be medal contenders. Marshall, the Australian world record holder, failed to reach the final and although McLane and Furuhashi both reached the final they filled the final two positions. The battle for the gold came to be decided between Boiteux, Konno and Östrand. The Frenchman led by a small margin over his American rival with the Swede always behind but keeping up the pressure on the leaders. Mindful of Konno’s noted sprint finish, Boiteux made his effort at the 200m mark. By 300m he held pulled out a second on Konno but the American began to fight back. Konno surged back and nearly brought himself level but with fifteen metres to go the American faltered and Boiteux held on to win. Östrand held on to finish third.

Boiteux came from a family of swimmers; his father had been a long distance swimmer whilst his [mother] and [uncle] both represented France in the Paris Olympics of 1924. One of the iconic photographs of the 1952 Olympics is of Papa Boiteux, complete with wet beret, being helped out of the pool by his son after he had jumped in to celebrate the victory.

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