Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Indoor Swimming Pool, Olympic Park, Seoul
Date Started: September 18, 1988
Date Finished: September 19, 1988
The heavy favorite was East German [Kristin Otto], the reigning World and European champion, and the world record holder. She was looking for a Spitz-like performance in Seoul, aiming for six gold medals, and her first race was the 100 freestyle. Swimming World noted that this race was the first time in 12 years that all the worldâs top swimmers had gathered at the Olympics. Otto was expected to be challenged by Americans [Dara Torres], winner of the 1987 Pan Pacs and 1988 world leader with 55.30, and [Mitzi Kremer], ranked third in the world in 1988. But they were non-factors, as Kremer did not make the final, and Torres would finish only seventh.
In the final, Otto was challenged by Chinaâs surprising [Zhuang Yong], who had been ranked only 12th in the world in 1987 and was only ninth in 1988 coming into the Olympics. Otto won easily, Zhuang setting a PR of 55.50 for the silver, the first Olympic medal won by a Chinese swimmer. Franceâs [Catherine Plewinski] was another surprise, winning the bronze medal, although she even admitted she did not think she could qualify for the A final. She had never medaled at an international meet before.