Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 4, 1956
Date Finished: December 6, 1956
Australia was completely dominant in the freestyle events at the Melbourne Olympic Games but generally struggled to make an impression at the other strokes. The one exception to this rule came in this event. With European champion [Gilbert Bozon] failing to reach the final, an opportunity opened for the host nation pairing of [David Theile] and [John Monckton] to dominate the proceedings.
Although it was Monckton who set the best times in the preliminaries, the 18-year-old Theile was the swimmer who grabbed the opportunity to make his mark in the final. Theile had a unique turn which seemed to help him gain time on his opponents but was of contested legality. He had been given an unofficial warning by the judges for using this turn in the heats and had decided to use a more orthodox method for the semi-final. In the final he reverted to his original technique and used it to good effect as he finished exactly a second ahead of Monckton to claim the Olympic title.
The time was later recognised as a world record when times set in a 25 m pool were deemed not eligible for record purposes.
Theile successfully defended his Olympic title in 1960 before going on to a long and successful career as a surgeon.