Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 22, 1996
Date Finished: July 22, 1996
[Denis Pankratov] of Russia had dominated this event since the Barcelona Olympics and arrived at Atlanta as world and European champion, world record holder and the fastest in the field by nearly two seconds. Bearing that in mind it came as a shock to see him qualify only fourth for the final, as Pankratov set out at a pace that put him nearly a second under the world record at 100 metres but faded badly over the home stretch. [Scott Goodman] of Australia qualified fastest.
Pankratov tempered his enthusiasm in the final and swam a more conservative first half of the race. The Russian had a small lead over the second Australian in the race, [Scott Miller], at the 100 metre mark but pulled out further ahead over the closing stages. As Miller, a 100 metres specialist, faded, Goodman and the USA's [Tom Malchow] overtook him to pursue a personal dual for second place. Malchow touched out Goodman for silver on the final stroke of the race.
Pankratov's victory and general dominance was based on his ability to swim half the first length of the pool underwater. This technique was banned shortly after the Olympic Games and swimmers can now be disqualified if they fail to surface within a 15 metre limit. The Russian, who later competed the 100/200 butterfly double, was voted Swimmer of the Year for 1996 by Swimming World magazine following his performances at the Games.