Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Indoor Swimming Pool, Olympic Park, Seoul
Date Started: September 20, 1988
Date Finished: September 21, 1988
Hungarian [TamÃ¡s Darnyi] was the favorite, having been the best in the world in the IMs since 1985. His biggest competition was expected to come from American [Dave Wharton], who had broken the world record in August 1987, only to have Darnyi better that five days later at the European Championships. They were an interesting pair. Darnyi was legally blind in his left eye after an injury to it in a snowball fight as a teenager, while Wharton was born almost completely deaf.
In the final Wharton had a slight lead on the opening butterfly leg, but Darnyi then crushed the backstroke, outswimming Wharton by 3.38 seconds and opening up a 2Â½ second lead. Wharton could never recover, although he would hang on to win the silver medal. Darnyi maintained his lead, finishing in 4:14.75 for a world record, over 2Â½ seconds ahead of Wharton. The bronze went to Italy's [Stefano Battistelli].
A few days later, Darnyi and Wharton were expected to meet again in the 200 IM, but Wharton swam poorly in prelims and did not qualify. Darnyi also won that gold medal, doubling in the IM, which he would repeat at Barcelona in 1992.