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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's 100 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 29, 1956
Date Finished: November 30, 1956

Gold: AUS Jon Henricks
Silver: AUS John Devitt
Bronze: AUS Gary Chapman


At the time of the Helsinki Olympics, [Jon Henricks] was the up and coming star of Australian distance swimming having won medals at 440 y, 880 y and 1650 y at the national championships. His chances of an Olympic début in 1952 were then ruined by a serious and persistent ear infection that wrecked his chances of making the Australian team.

Henricks reinvented himself as a sprinter in 1953 and soon embarked on a spectacular run of success over the 100 metres or imperial equivalent. He won three gold medals at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1956 and was successful on visits to the USA and Japan as well.

As such, Henricks was the favourite for the title in Melbourne and he lived up to his billing by setting a world record on his way to the Olympic championships. It was, however, a far closer race than anyone had predicted with Henricks being chased by teammate [John Devitt] until the very end.

[Gary Chapman] took bronze to compete a clean sweep for Australian on the medal podium – the first time ever Australia had swept any Olympic event. Henricks also had the honour of being the first Australian man to win Olympic gold on home soil.

In a statistical curiosity American swimmers finished in positions 4-5-6 behind the Australians in 1-2-3.

Henricks’ attempt to defend his title in Rome ended in the heats after a debilitating stomach ailment ruined his Olympics.

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