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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Women's 400 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 5, 1956
Date Finished: December 7, 1956

Gold: AUS Lorraine Crapp
Silver: AUS Dawn Fraser
Bronze: USA Sylvia Ruuska


In preparation races for the Melbourne Olympics Lorraine Crapp broke the world record, set by [Ragnhild Hveger] of Denmark in 1940. As in the 100 m freestyle that was contested a few days earlier, Crapp’s main rival was fellow countrywoman [Dawn Fraser], but over the longer distance Crapp was favoured to reverse the result of the earlier race and become Olympic champion.

The final matched the popular prediction with Fraser leading the race in the early stages before the superior stamina of Crapp became the decisive factor. Crapp won the gold medal with a huge margin of eight seconds to spare over Fraser with 14-year-old Californian [Sylvia Ruuska] finishing third.

All three medallists would compete in 1960 in Rome although only Fraser would compete outside a relay.

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