Swimming at the 1912 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metre freestyle

The men's 100 metre freestyle was a swimming event held as part of the swimming at the 1912 Summer Olympics programme.[1] It was the third appearance of the event, which had not been featured at the 1900 Games. The competition was held from Saturday July 6, 1912, to Wednesday July 10, 1912.

Men's 100 metre freestyle
at the Games of the V Olympiad
DatesJuly 6–10
Competitors34 from 12 nations
Duke Kahanamoku  United States
Cecil Healy  Australasia
Ken Huszagh  United States

Thirty-four swimmers from twelve nations competed.


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1912 Summer Olympics.

World Record 1:02.4 Kurt Bretting Brussels (BEL) April 6, 1912
Olympic Record 1:05.6 Charles Daniels London (GBR) July 20, 1908
1:02.8(*) Zoltán Halmay St. Louis (USA) September 5, 1904

(*) 100 yards (= 91.44 m)

In the fourth heat Perry McGillivray set a new Olympic record with 1:04.8 minutes. In the fifth heat Duke Kahanamoku bettered the Olympic record of 1:02.6 minutes. Finally Duke Kahanamoku improved the Olympic record with a time of 1:02.4 minutes in the third semi-final heat.



The fastest two in each heat advanced. A tie for second in the seventh heat resulted in both swimmers advancing. In addition, the fastest third-place swimmer from across the heats also qualified for the quarterfinals.

Heat 1

1 László Beleznai (HUN)1:08.0QQ
2 Robert Andersson (SWE)1:09.4QQ
3 Andreas Asimakopoulos (GRE)1:15.4
4 Herbert von Kuhlberg (RUS)

Heat 2

1 Kurt Bretting (GER)1:07.0QQ
2 Paul Radmilovic (GBR)1:10.4QQ
3 Theodore Tartakover (ANZ)1:12.2
4 Jules Wuyts (BEL)1:13.6

Heat 3

1 Leslie Boardman (ANZ)1:06.0QQ
2 Nicholas Nerich (USA)1:07.6QQ
3 John Derbyshire (GBR)1:09.2
4-6 Davide Baiardo (ITA)
 Walther Binner (GER)
 Alajos Kenyery (HUN)

Heat 4

1 Perry McGillivray (USA)1:04.8QQ OR
2 Cecil Healy (ANZ)1:05.2QQ
3 Ken Huszagh (USA)1:06.2qq
4 Erik Andersson (SWE)1:13.0
5 Georg Kunisch (GER)

Heat 5

1 Duke Kahanamoku (USA)1:02.6QQ OR
2 William Longworth (ANZ)1:05.2QQ
3 Harry Hebner (USA)1:10.4
4 Gérard Meister (FRA)1:16.6

Heat 6

1 Harold Hardwick (ANZ)1:05.8QQ
2 Max Ritter (GER)1:08.0QQ
3 Herman Meyboom (BEL)1:15.4
4 James Reilly (USA)

Heat 7

1 Walter Ramme (GER)1:10.2QQ
2 Harald Julin (SWE)1:11.8QQ
 Mario Massa (ITA)1:11.8QQ
4 John Johnsen (NOR)1:19.2

Heat 8

1 Erik Bergqvist (SWE)1:13.4QQ
2 Georges Rigal (FRA)1:17.8QQ
3 László Szentgróthy (HUN)


Again, the top two in each heat advanced along with the fastest loser overall. Four of the qualified swimmers did not take part in their quarterfinal heats, and a fifth (Massa) did not appear due to a misunderstanding. Massa was later allowed to take part in the semifinals.

Quarterfinal 1

1 Kurt Bretting (GER)1:04.2QS
2 William Longworth (ANZ)1:05.2QS
3 Harold Hardwick (ANZ)1:06.0
4 Robert Andersson (SWE)1:10.0
 László Beleznai (HUN)DNS
 Georges Rigal (FRA)DNS

Quarterfinal 2

1 Duke Kahanamoku (USA)1:03.8QS
2 Walter Ramme (GER)1:07.8QS
3 Nicholas Nerich (USA)1:08.8
 Max Ritter (GER)1:08.8
 Erik Bergqvist (SWE)DNS
 Harald Julin (SWE)DNS

Quarterfinal 3

1 Ken Huszagh (USA)1:04.2QS
2 Perry McGillivray (USA)1:04.4QS
3 Cecil Healy (ANZ)1:04.8qs
4 Leslie Boardman (ANZ)1:05.4
5 Paul Radmilovic (GBR)1:19.0
 Mario Massa (ITA)DNSqs


Further confusion struck the semifinals. Under the belief that the second round of the competition had been the semifinals, the American swimmers did not appear for the third round. This led to both semifinals being essentially walkovers, as the first had three swimmers and the second only one. Since the top two swimmers of each and the fastest third-place swimmer would advance, all four competitors had secured a place in the final before entering the water. Longworth swam in the first heat, despite suffering from what the official report referred to as "suppuration in the head".

The jury for the swimming events met and determined that a third heat should be held under special rules. If the winner of the extra heat were to beat the time set by the third-place swimmer of the first heat (1:06.2, a stiff pace but one which all three Americans had beat during the quarterfinals), he and the second-place finisher would advance. If the mark were not bettered, none of the swimmers from the third heat would advance. Massa, who had missed the quarterfinals due to a misunderstanding, was also allowed to start in the extra semifinal.

In the third heat, Kahanamoku not only beat Longworth's time, thus qualifying himself and Huszagh for the final, but bettered his own Olympic record which he had set in the first round. Huszagh out-touched McGillivray by a "hand's breadth" to take second place and the final qualification spot, though both finished well behind Kahanamoku and their own previous times. Massa did not finish the race.

Semifinal 1

1 Cecil Healy (ANZ)1:05.6QF
2 Walter Ramme (GER)1:05.8QF
3 William Longworth (ANZ)1:06.2qf

Semifinal 2

1 Kurt Bretting (GER)1:04.6QF

Semifinal 3

1 Duke Kahanamoku (USA)1:02.4QF =WR
2 Ken Huszagh (USA)1:06.2QF
3 Perry McGillivray (USA)1:06.2
 Mario Massa (ITA)DNF


Longworth was unable to continue competing due to illness and did not start in the final.

Kahanamoku was clearly in control by the halfway point, with a tight race between Huszagh, Ramme, and Bretting for the next three spots with Healy close behind them. It was Healy who took the silver medal, though, as he swam by the other three near the finish. Ramme fell back to fifth while Huszagh and Bretting finished separated by "[o]nly a decimetre".

1 Duke Kahanamoku (USA)1:03.4
2 Cecil Healy (ANZ)1:04.6
3 Ken Huszagh (USA)1:05.6
4 Kurt Bretting (GER)1:05.8
5 Walter Ramme (GER)1:06.4
6 William Longworth (ANZ)DNS



  • Bergvall, Erik (ed.) (1913). Adams-Ray, Edward (trans.). (ed.). The Official Report of the Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912. Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Wudarski, Pawel (1999). "Wyniki Igrzysk Olimpijskich" (in Polish). Retrieved 28 January 2007.
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