Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Indoor Swimming Pool, Olympic Park, Seoul
Date Started: September 23, 1988
Date Finished: September 23, 1988
The Olympic record was 3:50.91, set by West German [Thomas Fahrner] in winning the B final in Los Angeles. The standard in Seoul was so high that to qualify for the final, one had to better that record, the biggest casualty being 1986 World Champion and 1987 European runner-up, West German [Rainer Henkel], who barely made the B final and elected not to contest that race. The high standard of qualifying set the stage for a dramatic final.
The current world record holder was Polandâs [Artur Wojdat], who trained in the USA and had swum 3:48.38 earlier in 1988 at the US Nationals. In the final the early leader was Swedenâs [Anders Holmertz] followed by American [Matt Cetlinski], the 1987 Pan Pacific champion. Cetlinski took the lead at 300 metres, followed by Wojdat and Holmertz, with East German [Uwe DaÃler] in fourth, and Australian [Duncan Armstrong], already the winner of the 200 free in Seoul, moving up slightly, but still in seventh. Cetlinski continued to lead at 350 but he was dying, and Wojdat and DaÃler moved ahead on the final lap. Armstrong, who swam the final 100 in 55.02, finished very quickly and moved up to the silver medal, passing Wojdat. But he could not catch DaÃler, who finished in 55.55 for gold, as Cetlinski dropped off the podium to fourth.
DaÃler finished in 3:46.95 to break Wojdatâs world record. But Wojdat also bettered it in third, with 3:47.34, as did Armstrong in second with 3:47.15, and it took a world record time just to get on the podium. Wojdat called it âThe Race of the Century,â which was echoed by Terry Stoddard, his Mission Viejo coach, who said âYes, definitely. It was the greatest race in history.â