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Swimming at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games

1988 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Date Started: September 18, 1988
Date Finished: September 25, 1988
Events: 31

Participants: 633 (381 men and 252 women) from 77 countries
Youngest Participant: ANG Nádia Cruz (13 years, 74 days)
Oldest Participant: GBR Maggie Kelly-Hohmann (32 years, 2 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): USA Matt Biondi (7 medals)
Most Medals (Country): GDR East Germany (28 medals)


Although no one knew it at the time this was to be the last hurrah from one of the most dominant, if controversial, sports programmes of all time. East German participation went out with a bang as, led by the unbeatable [Kristin Otto], their women's team gained more medals than any other nation gained when combining the achievements of both sexes. Otto won six gold medals at the Games to set a women's record for any sport at a single Olympics. In Seoul Otto uniquely won gold medals in three different strokes, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.

The male equivalent of Otto was America's [Matt Biondi]. His attempt to duplicate [Mark Spitz]'s Munich performance of seven gold medals foundered but he still managed to win five Olympic titles, a silver and a bronze. One of Biondi's victories came in the 50 metres freestyle – an event newly introduced into the games for both men and women. Another American swimmer to make waves in 1988 was [Janet Evans] who took three individual events and set a world record in the 400 metre freestyle.

The small Hungarian team led by [Tamás Darnyi] fared well to place third in the swimming medal table but even more remarkable was the performance of the one man team from Suriname. That man, [Anthony Nesty], was the swimmer who derailed Biondi's attempt at seven golds by recording an upset victory in the 100 metres butterfly by the minimum possible margin of 0.01 of a second.

A popular victory was that achieved by the veteran Soviet [Vladimir Salnikov] in the 1500 metres freestyle. Salnikov had been one of the outstanding swimmers of the Moscow Games but had his chance at retaining his titles ruined by the Eastern Bloc boycott of 1984. Thought to be in decline, he produced one final great swim to regain the title he had won in 1980. Later, when he walked into the Olympic food hall for a meal, his fellow competitors rose to applaud him.


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men's 50 metres Freestyle USA Matt Biondi USA Tom Jager URS Gennady Prigoda
Men's 100 metres Freestyle USA Matt Biondi USA Chris Jacobs FRA Stéphan Caron
Men's 200 metres Freestyle AUS Duncan Armstrong SWE Anders Holmertz USA Matt Biondi
Men's 400 metres Freestyle GDR Uwe Daßler AUS Duncan Armstrong POL Artur Wojdat
Men's 1,500 metres Freestyle URS Vladimir Salnikov FRG Stefan Pfeiffer GDR Uwe Daßler
Men's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States URS Soviet Union GDR East Germany
Men's 4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States GDR East Germany FRG West Germany
Men's 100 metres Backstroke JPN Daichi Suzuki USA Dave Berkoff URS Igor Polyansky
Men's 200 metres Backstroke URS Igor Polyansky GDR Frank Baltrusch NZL Paul Kingsman
Men's 100 metres Breaststroke GBR Adrian Moorhouse HUN Károly Güttler URS Dmitry Volkov
Men's 200 metres Breaststroke HUN József Szabó GBR Nick Gillingham ESP Sergio López
Men's 100 metres Butterfly SUR Anthony Nesty USA Matt Biondi GBR Andy Jameson
Men's 200 metres Butterfly FRG Michael Groß DEN Benny Nielsen NZL Anthony Mosse
Men's 200 metres Individual Medley HUN Tamás Darnyi GDR Patrick Kühl URS Vadym Yaroshchuk
Men's 400 metres Individual Medley HUN Tamás Darnyi USA Dave Wharton ITA Stefano Battistelli
Men's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay USA United States CAN Canada URS Soviet Union
Women's 50 metres Freestyle GDR Kristin Otto CHN Yang Wenyi GDR Katrin Meißner
USA Jill Sterkel
Women's 100 metres Freestyle GDR Kristin Otto CHN Zhuang Yong FRA Catherine Plewinski
Women's 200 metres Freestyle GDR Heike Friedrich CRC Silvia Poll GDR Manuela Stellmach
Women's 400 metres Freestyle USA Janet Evans GDR Heike Friedrich GDR Anke Möhring
Women's 800 metres Freestyle USA Janet Evans GDR Astrid Strauß AUS Julie M. McDonald
Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay GDR East Germany NED Netherlands USA United States
Women's 100 metres Backstroke GDR Kristin Otto HUN Krisztina Egerszegi GDR Cornelia Sirch
Women's 200 metres Backstroke HUN Krisztina Egerszegi GDR Kathrin Zimmermann GDR Cornelia Sirch
Women's 100 metres Breaststroke BUL Tanya Bogomilova-Dangalakova BUL Antoaneta Frenkeva GDR Silke Hörner
Women's 200 metres Breaststroke GDR Silke Hörner CHN Huang Xiaomin BUL Antoaneta Frenkeva
Women's 100 metres Butterfly GDR Kristin Otto GDR Birte Weigang CHN Qian Hong
Women's 200 metres Butterfly GDR Kathleen Nord GDR Birte Weigang USA Mary T. Meagher
Women's 200 metres Individual Medley GDR Daniela Hunger URS Yelena Dendeberova ROU Noëmi Lung
Women's 400 metres Individual Medley USA Janet Evans ROU Noëmi Lung GDR Daniela Hunger
Women's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay GDR East Germany USA United States CAN Canada