Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Swim Stadium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: July 31, 1984
Date Finished: July 31, 1984
The East Germans had been 1-2 in this event at the 1982 World Championships, after sweeping the medals in Moscow. The 1982 World bronze medalist was American [Tiffany Cohen], who became the de facto favorite because of the Eastern Bloc boycott. The world record holder was Australian [Tracey Wickham], but the mark was from 1978 and she had briefly retired in 1979, and although she returned in 1982, she was not in Los Angeles. In the final Cohen dominated, going ahead of Wickhamâs world record splits through 300 metres, and leading by almost four seconds. But she could not quiet hang on for the record, finishing in an Olympic record of 4:07.10, the second fastest womenâs 400 ever, less than a second above Wickhamâs mark. Three days later Cohen would add another gold by winning the 800 freestyle.
Great Britain surprisingly supplied the silver and bronze medalists, [Sarah Hardcastle] and [June Croft]. Hardcastle won a bronze medal in this event at the 1986 Worlds, and then retired, only to return in 1993, win the 1995 World Short-Course 800 freestyle, and compete again at the 1996 Olympics. Croft had won the 100 and 200 freestyles at the 1982 Commonwealth Games and also came back much later, winning relay medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. The fourth-place finisher was [Kim Linehan] who had been expected to medal, coming into Los Angeles with the second-fastest time of the year, after Cohen. Linehan had been 1982 World Champion in the 800 free, and then retired, only to return late in 1983 in an effort to compete and win an Olympic medal.