Swimming at the 1960 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metre freestyle

The men's 100 metre freestyle event at the 1960 Olympic Games took place between August 26 and 27.[1] This swimming event used freestyle swimming, which means that the method of the stroke is not regulated (unlike backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly events). Nearly all swimmers use the front crawl or a variant of that stroke. Because an Olympic size swimming pool is 50 metres long, this race consisted of two lengths of the pool.


Results were decided by finish judges who relied on their eyes and did not use replays. Three judges were assigned to each finishing position. There were three official timers in 1960 for each lane and swimmer, all timing by hand. All three timers for Devitt, in lane three, timed him in 55.2 seconds. The three timers for lane four timed Lance Larson in 55.0, 55.1, and 55.1 seconds.[2]

Former Olympic swimmer and FINA co-founder Max Ritter inspected the judge's scorecards. Two of the three first-place judges found that Devitt had finished first and the third found for Larson. Of the three-second-place judges, two found that Devitt finished second and one found that Larson was second. Ritter pointed out to chief judge Henry Runströmer of Sweden that the scorecards indicated a tie. Runstrümer cast the deciding vote and declared Devitt the winner. However, the rules at that time did not provide for the chief judge to have a vote or give him the right to break ties.[3] Ties were supposed to be broken by referring to the timing machine. The official results placed Devitt first and Larson second, both with the identical time of 55.2 seconds.[4] The United States team appealed, bolstered by videotaped footage of the finish that appeared to show Larson the winner.[5] The appeal jury, headed by Jan de Vries, also the President of FINA in 1960, rejected the appeal, keeping Devitt the winner.[6] This controversy would pave the way for electronic touchpads to be included in swimming events to determine finish and accurate timing.


GoldJohn Devitt
SilverLance Larson
 United States
BronzeManuel dos Santos



Seven heats were held; the swimmers with the fastest 24 times advanced to the Semifinals. Those that advanced are highlighted. This round took place on August 26.

Heat One

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Karri KäyhköFinland56.8
2Keigo ShimizuJapan57.3
3Ezio Della SaviaItaly58.2
4Gert KölliAustria58.3
5Herlander RibeiroPortugal1:00.2
6Leopoldo RodésSpain1:00.7
7René WagnerLuxembourg1:04.3

Heat Two

Rank Athlete Country Time
1John DevittAustralia56.0
2Alain GottvallèsFrance56.3
3Igor LuzhkovskySoviet Union57.9
4Uwe JacobsenGermany57.9
5Achmad DimyatiIndonesia59.1
6Luis NicolaoArgentina1:00.2
7Fong Seow JitMalaya1:03.4
8Alfred GrixtiMalta1:07.8

Heat Three

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Manuel dos Santos FilhoBrazil56.3
2Andrzej SalamonPoland56.5
3Cam GroutCanada57.6
4Jorge EscalanteMexico57.6
5Ron KroonNetherlands57.7
6Gérard GropaizFrance59.3
7Peter BärtschiSwitzerland1:02.9

Heat Four

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Gyula DobayHungary56.5
2Vitaly SorokinSoviet Union58.2
3Bengt NordwallSweden58.5
4Jan BouwmanNetherlands58.8
5Amiram TrauberIsrael59.7
6Cheung Kin ManHong Kong1:01.1

Heat Five

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Jon HenricksAustralia56.9
2Per-Ola LindbergSweden57.1
3László LantosHungary57.4
4Stanley ClarkeGreat Britain59.1
5Fernando de AbreuBrazil1:00.1
6Gudmunður GíslasonIceland1:00.8
7Freddie ElizaldePhilippines1:03.0
8Christopher DowlingMalta1:08.9

Heat Six

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Bruce HunterUnited States56.6
2Dick PoundCanada56.7
3Rubén RocaCuba58.3
4Janez KocmurYugoslavia58.7
5Giorgio PerondiniItaly58.9
6Phan Hữu DongSouth Vietnam1:01.3
7Ünsal FikirciTurkey1:03.0

Heat Seven

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Lance LarsonUnited States55.7
2Aubrey BürerSouth Africa56.3
3Katsuki IshiharaJapan57.5
4Bernard AluchnaPoland57.9
5Paul VoellGermany58.0
6William O'DonnellGreat Britain59.2
7Gojko ArneriYugoslavia1:00.5
8Itzhak LuriaIsrael1:00.9


Three heats were held; the fastest eight swimmers advanced to the Finals. The athletes that advanced are highlighted. The semifinals were held on August 26.

Semifinal One

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Lance LarsonUnited States55.5
2Bruce HunterUnited States55.7
3Aubrey BürerSouth Africa56.5
4Keigo ShimizuJapan57.1
5Igor LuzhkovskySoviet Union57.5
6Cam GroutCanada58.0
7Paul VoellGermany58.4
8Alain GottvallèsFrance58.5

Semifinal Two

Rank Athlete Country Time
1John DevittAustralia55.8
2Dick PoundCanada56.5
3Andrzej SalamonPoland56.9
4Jon HenricksAustralia57.2
5Uwe JacobsenGermany57.4
6László LantosHungary58.0
7Vitaly SorokinSoviet Union58.7
8Jorge EscalanteMexico59.0

Semifinal Three

Rank Athlete Country Time
1Manuel dos Santos FilhoBrazil56.3
2Gyula DobayHungary56.3
3Per-Ola LindbergSweden56.4
4Karri KäyhköFinland56.6
5Katsuki IshiharaJapan57.8
6Bernard AluchnaPoland57.8
7Ron KroonNetherlands57.9
8Ezio Della SaviaItaly58.4


John Devitt Australia55.2OR
Lance Larson United States55.2OR
Manuel dos Santos Brazil55.4
4Bruce Hunter United States55.6
5Gyula Dobay Hungary56.3
6Dick Pound Canada56.3
7Aubrey Bürer South Africa56.3
8Per-Ola Lindberg Sweden57.1

Key: OR = Olympic record


  1. "Swimming at the 1960 Rome Summer Games: Men's 100 metres Freestyle". Sports Reference. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  2. David Maraniss, Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World, Simon & Schuster, New York City, p. 130 (2008).
  3. Maraniss, Rome 1960 p. 132
  4. Maraniss, Rome 1960, p. 131
  5. Maraniss, Rome 1960, p. 137
  6. Maraniss, Rome 1960, p. 138
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