Swimming at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's 400 metre freestyle

The men's 400 metre freestyle was one of six swimming events on the swimming at the 1908 Summer Olympics programme.[1] Its distance was the median of the 3 individual freestyle event distances. It was the first time an event over 400 metres was held at the Olympics (after a 440-yard contest was held in 1904). The competition was held from Monday July 13, 1908 to Thursday July 16, 1908.

Men's 400 metre freestyle
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
VenueWhite City Stadium
DatesJuly 13–16
Competitors25 from 10 nations
1st place, gold medalist(s) Henry Taylor  Great Britain
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Frank Beaurepaire  Australasia
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Otto Scheff  Austria
← 1904
(440 yd)
1912 →

Each nation could enter up to 12 swimmers.[2] Twenty-five swimmers from ten nations competed.


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1908 Summer Olympics.

World Record ? ?
Olympic Record 6:16.2(*)   Charles Daniels St. Louis (USA) September 7, 1904

(*) 440 yards (= 402.34 m)

In the final Henry Taylor set the first official world record for this distance in 5:36.8 minutes.

Competition formatEdit

With a much larger field than in 1904, the 1908 competition expanded to three rounds: heats, semifinals, and a final. The 1908 Games also restored the wild-card system from 1900, allowing the fastest swimmers who did not win their heat to advance. The nine heats consisted of between 1 and 5 swimmers, with the winner of the heat advancing along with the fastest loser from across the heats (all tied swimmers advanced in the case of equal times). There were two semifinals, intended to be of 5 swimmers each but one of which actually had 4 due to a withdrawal; the top 2 finishers in each semifinal (regardless of overall time) advanced to the 4-person final.[3]

Each race involved four lengths of the 100 metre pool. Any stroke could be used.


First roundEdit

The fastest swimmer in each heat and the fastest loser advanced, qualifying 10 swimmers for the semifinals.

Heat 1

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Thomas Battersby (GBR) 5:48.8 QS
2   Béla Las-Torres (HUN) 5:52.2 qs
3   Leo Goodwin (USA) Unknown
4   Vilhelm Andersson (SWE) Unknown
  Henri Decoin (FRA) Did not finish

Heat 2

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   William Foster (GBR) 5:54.8 QS
2   Robert Andersson (SWE) 6:28.0

Heat 3

Tartakover had no competition in the third heat.

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Theodore Tartakover (ANZ) 6:35.0 QS

Heat 4

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Frank Beaurepaire (ANZ) 5:49.2 QS
2   Sam Blatherwick (GBR) 6:16.8
3   Conrad Trubenbach (USA) Unknown
  Davide Baiardo (ITA) Did not finish

Heat 5

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Paul Radmilovic (GBR) 6:10.0 QS
2   Aage Holm (DEN) 8:08.8

Heat 6

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Henry Taylor (GBR) 5:42.2 QS
2   Frank Springfield (ANZ) 5:57.4
3   Mario Massa (ITA) Unknown

Heat 7

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Otto Scheff (AUT) 5:51.0 QS
2   William Haynes (GBR) 6:21.2
3   József Ónody (HUN) Unknown
4-5   Friedrich Meuring (NED) Unknown
  Hjalmar Saxtorph (DEN) Unknown

Heat 8

Zachár had no competition in the eighth heat.

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Imre Zachár (HUN) 6:09.8 QS

Heat 9

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Henrik Hajós (HUN) 6:19.8 QS
2   Arthur Sharp (GBR) 7:00.4


The fastest two swimmers from each semifinal advanced to the final.

Semifinal 1

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Otto Scheff (AUT) 5:40.6 QF
2   Henry Taylor (GBR) 5:41.0 QF
3   Thomas Battersby (GBR) Unknown
4   Béla Las-Torres (HUN) Unknown
5   Henrik Hajós (HUN) Unknown

Semifinal 2

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1   Frank Beaurepaire (ANZ) 5:44.0 QF
2   William Foster (GBR) 5:52.2 QF
3   Paul Radmilovic (GBR) Unknown
  Imre Zachár (HUN) Did not finish
  Theodore Tartakover (ANZ) Did not start


Place Swimmer Time
1   Henry Taylor (GBR) 5:36.8
2   Frank Beaurepaire (ANZ) 5:44.2
3   Otto Scheff (AUT) 5:46.0
4   William Foster (GBR) Unknown


  1. ^ "Swimming at the 1908 London Summer Games: Men's 400 metres Freestyle". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Official Report, p. 40.
  3. ^ Official Report, p. 571.


  • Cook, Theodore Andrea (1908). The Fourth Olympiad, Being the Official Report. London: British Olympic Association.
  • De Wael, Herman (2001). "Swimming 1908". Herman's Full Olympians. Retrieved 13 May 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)