Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Venue(s): Bernat Picornell Pools, Barcelona
Date Started: July 26, 1992
Date Finished: July 26, 1992
|Bronze:||Franziska van Almsick|
Australians had held the world record in this event from 1956-73, and East German swimmers then took over, setting multiple records from 1973-92, with the current mark as the Olympic year started being 54.73, set by [Kristin Otto] at the 1986 World Championships. At the US Olympic Trials [Jenny Thompson] swam 54.48 in the preliminaries to better Otto's mark. She was favored in Barcelona, although her teammate, [Nicole Haislett], 1991 World Champion and runner-up at 1991 Pan Pacs, was expected to be her biggest competition.
In the final, China's [Zhuang Yong] surprisingly led Thompson at the turn, 26.46 to 26.54. But Thompson's strong finish never came and Zhuang held on to win the gold medal, Thompson later saying, "I just choked hard coming home and I don't know why."
This was the first individual Olympic medal for Thompson, who would compete at the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics, finishing her career with 12 Olympic medals, eight of them gold. But an individual gold medal would always elude her. Third-place in this event would go to German [Franziska van Almsick], also beginning an Olympic career that would last through 2004. Van Almsick would win 10 Olympic medals, but like Thompson she would be frustrated, in her case never managing any Olympic gold.