Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Indoor Swimming Pool, Olympic Park, Seoul
Date Started: September 22, 1988
Date Finished: September 22, 1988
[Igor Polyansky] (URS) came into Seoul as the heavy favorite in this event, having lost only one race since 1985, that at the 1987 European Championships to his teammate, [Sergey Zabolotnov]. They had set the last two world records, with Zabolotnov setting his at the 1984 Friendship Games in Moscow, just after the Los Angeles Olympics, but Polyansky broke that record in 1985 with 1:58.14. In the Seoul final, Zabolotnov led at 100 metres, but Polyansky took the lead on the third lap. He held on for the gold medal and East German [Frank Baltrusch] finished quickly for silver, as Zabolotnov fell off the medal stand and placed fourth.
The bronze medal went to New Zealander [Paul Kingsman], whose best previous international finish had been a third at the 1987 Pan Pacs. The awards ceremony would not go so well for him or for Polyansky. First, Kingsman was introduced as from the Soviet Union. Then Polyansky had to stand there as they corrected that, but they overdid it, and announced the playing of the New Zealand national anthem. Fortunately that was corrected and the Soviet anthem was actually played.