Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Swim Stadium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: August 2, 1984
Date Finished: August 2, 1984
The best 400 freestyler in the world was not in Los Angeles. That was [Vladimir Salnikov] of the USSR, defending champion in this event, 1978 and 1982 World Champion at both the 400 and 1,500, and a five-time world record in this event. Salnikov had swum 3:48.23 at Moscow in February 1983 for the current world mark as the Los Angeles Olympics opened. It was never challenged. The favorites in LA were American [George DiCarlo] and West German [Thomas Fahrner]. DiCarlo qualified comfortably in third place, as the leading morning qualifier was Fahrnerâs teammate [Stefan Pfeiffer], followed by American [John Mykkanen], and DiCarlo. Fahrner wanted to save himself for the evening final and only aimed for a qualifying time that would put him in outside lane, but he misjudged the qualifying times, placed ninth, and did not make the final.
In the final DiCarlo and Mykkanen fought out a very close race, with DiCarlo winning gold in 3:51.23, nowhere near Salnikovâs times. Mykkanen won silver followed by Australian [Justin Lemberg] for the bronze. DiCarloâs set an Olympic record, bettering Salnikovâs 3:51.31 from Moscow, but it did not last long. The B final started 10 minutes after the main final, and Thomas Fahrner elected to race. Putting everything he had into it, Fahrner finished in 3:50.91 to set the Olympic record, despite finishing 9th overall in the event. The officials from FINA initially considered not awarding the Olympic record to Fahrner, but quickly reversed themselves.