Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 5, 1956
Date Finished: December 7, 1956
The world record fell twice in 1956 before the Olympic Games began. Firstly [George Breen ] broke the record at the US Olympic trials, then [Murray Rose] furthered lowered it at the Australian trials a few months later.
Rose and [Tsuyoshi Yamanaka] posted the 2nd and 3rd fastest times in history in the first qualifying heat only to see Breen respond by taking 6.6 seconds off the world record in heat 3.
Not unexpectedly the final quickly turned into a three-way battle between Rose, Breen and Yamanaka. At halfway the three men were still together until Rose began to pull away from the other two and into a lead of more than five metres. Breen, unable to match his heroics from the heats, slipped further back but Yamanaka made a final effort over the last two lengths of the pool to pull back on the leader. As the increasingly anxious home crowd roared their support for the Australian, Rose mustered a sprint that kept him clear of the Japanese swimmer. Breen was 16 seconds slower than in his heat but was still able to win the bronze medal.
Rose returned to collect silver in this event at the Rome Games but, despite being in world record breaking form in 1964, he was not selected for Tokyo when acting commitments meant that he was not able to return to Australia for the trials.