Host City: Tokyo, Japan
Venue(s): Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo, Shibuya, Tokyo
Date Started: October 16, 1964
Date Finished: October 17, 1964
Australia's [Murray Rose] had won this event in 1956 and was second in 1960 and was still considered formidable. He was the 400 and 800 metre world record holder from 1962, and in August 1964, he bettered the 1,500 world record with 17:01.8 in Los Altos, California. But by 1964 he had settled in the United States, first as a student at the University of Southern California, and then as an actor in Los Angeles. He elected not to return for the Australian Trials in February, and Australian swimming officials responded by not allowing him on the Olympic team. He would have contended for gold, but might not have been favored, that role going to American [Roy Saari], who in September had broken Roseâs world mark and become the first swimmer to go under 17 minutes for the distance, recording 16:58.7. Australia's best swimmer in Tokyo was [Bob Windle], but a few days before he had failed to make the final in the 400 metres and seemed at less than his best.
However, Windle qualified as the fastest in the heats, with Saari only fourth. And Windle took the lead at 100 metres and was never behind, although he was soon caught by his teammate [Allan Wood] and they led together through 1,000 metres, having 12 metres open water on America's [John Nelson], with Saari struggling. By then Wood had given his best and Windle pulled away. He was ahead of Saari's world pace at 1,300 metres but slowed on the final laps to win the gold medal in 17:01.7. Nelson came on strong and caught Wood at 1,350 metres, but ran out of water to catch Windle. Saari finished seventh in 17:29.2, nowhere near his best times.