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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Women's 100 metres Freestyle

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Events:

Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 29, 1956
Date Finished: December 1, 1956

Gold: AUS Dawn Fraser
Silver: AUS Lorraine Crapp
Bronze: AUS Faith Leech

Summary

For 20 years the time set in early 1936 by the Dutch swimmer [Willy den Ouden] remained unchallenged as the world record. Once broken by 18-year-old Australian [Dawn Fraser] in February 1956 it was broken over and over again in the next eight months by a trio of teenagers. [Cocki van Engelsdorp Gastelaars] held the record for the Northern hemisphere summer, Fraser regained it before the youngest of three, 17-year-old [Lorraine Crapp], set a new mark at the Australian selection trials. The stage was set for the three women to produce an epic race in Melbourne but it would not fully take place as Gastelaars was a victim of the Dutch boycott of the 1956 Games.

In the absence of the Dutchwoman the event turned into a bonanza for the host nation of Australia.

As expected, Fraser and Crapp contested the gold medal with the pair forcing each other to go faster than they’d ever gone before in pursuit of the title. Both swam inside the existing world record but it was Fraser who was crowned Olympic champion. [Faith Leech], at only 15 years of age, completed an Australian sweep of the medals, which matched what happened in the men’s equivalent race 24 hours earlier.

This was the first of a sequence of 3 successive championships in the event for Fraser and the first of her eight Olympic medals.

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