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 fourth 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. Thirty-four swimmers from twelve nations competed. The event was won by Duke Kahanamoku of the United States, the nation's second consecutive victory in the event (tying Hungary for most all-time). Cecil Healy took silver, the only medal in the event for Australasia, the short-lived joint team of Australia and New Zealand. Another American, Ken Huszagh, took bronze.

Men's 100 metre freestyle
at the Games of the V Olympiad
100 Meter Swim-Olympic games LOC 2162716907.jpg
100 metre freestyle at the 1912 Games
DatesJuly 6–10
Competitors34 from 12 nations
Winning time1:03.4
1st place, gold medalist(s) Duke Kahanamoku
 United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Cecil Healy
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Ken Huszagh
 United States
← 1908
1920 →


This was the fourth appearance of the men's 100 metre freestyle (including the 100 yard event in 1904 but excluding the Intercalated Games in 1906). The event has been held at every Summer Olympics except 1900 (when the shortest freestyle was the 200 metres), though the 1904 version was measured in yards rather than metres.[2]

One of the four finalists from 1908 returned: bronze medalist Harald Julin of Sweden. Charles Daniels, the defending gold medalist who had also won at the 1906 Intercalated Games and taken silver at the 1904 Olympics, had retired. The favorite was Kurt Bretting of Germany, who had broken Daniels' world record earlier in 1912. An intriguing entrant was the Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku, rumored to have posted phenomenal times which were unverified because of the distance from the American mainland.[2]

Germany, Norway, and Russia each made their debut in the event. Hungary and the United States each made their fourth appearance, having competed at each edition of the event to date.

Competition formatEdit

The rules for the swimming events provided that each event would consist of heats, a final, and "a sufficient number of intermediate heats in proportion to the number of competitors."[3] This resulted in confusion when the organizers deemed that there should be 2 such intermediate rounds (for a total of 4 rounds) while the American team thought that there would be only 1 intermediate round before the final and did not appear for the semifinals. Ultimately a four-round competition was held, with a special heat in the third round held for competitors who had missed races due to confusion.

For each round, the top two swimmers in each heat advanced to the next round along with the fastest third-place swimmer. In the case of a tie, all tied swimmers would advance (swim-offs would only be used in the final). Each race consisted of a single length of the 100 metre couse. Any stroke could be used.


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 semifinal heat.


Date Time Round
Saturday, 6 July 1912 19:00 Heats
Sunday, 7 July 1912 13:30
Semifinals 1 and 2
Tuesday, 9 July 1912 Semifinal 3
Wednesday, 10 July 1912 Final



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 1Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 László Beleznai   Hungary 1:08.0 Q
2 Robert Andersson   Sweden 1:09.4 Q
3 Andreas Asimakopoulos   Greece 1:15.4
4 Herbert von Kuhlberg   Russia Unknown

Heat 2Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Kurt Bretting   Germany 1:07.0 Q
2 Paul Radmilovic   Great Britain 1:10.4 Q
3 Theodore Tartakover   Australasia 1:12.2
4 Jules Wuyts   Belgium 1:13.6

Heat 3Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Leslie Boardman   Australasia 1:06.0 Q
2 Nicholas Nerich   United States 1:07.6 Q
3 John Derbyshire   Great Britain 1:09.2
4–6 Davide Baiardo   Italy Unknown
Walther Binner   Germany Unknown
Alajos Kenyery   Hungary Unknown

Heat 4Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Perry McGillivray   United States 1:04.8 Q, OR
2 Cecil Healy   Australasia 1:05.2 Q
3 Ken Huszagh   United States 1:06.2 q
4 Erik Andersson   Sweden 1:13.0
5 Georg Kunisch   Germany Unknown

Heat 5Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Duke Kahanamoku   United States 1:02.6 Q, OR
2 William Longworth   Australasia 1:05.2 Q
3 Harry Hebner   United States 1:10.4
4 Gérard Meister   France 1:16.6

Heat 6Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Harold Hardwick   Australasia 1:05.8 Q
2 Max Ritter   Germany 1:08.0 Q
3 Herman Meyboom   Belgium 1:15.4
4 James Reilly   United States Unknown

Heat 7Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Walter Ramme   Germany 1:10.2 Q
2 Harald Julin   Sweden 1:11.8 Q
Mario Massa   Italy 1:11.8 Q
4 John Johnsen   Norway 1:19.2

Heat 8Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Erik Bergqvist   Sweden 1:13.4 Q
2 Georges Rigal   France 1:17.8 Q
3 László Szentgróthy   Hungary Unknown


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 1Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Kurt Bretting   Germany 1:04.2 Q
2 William Longworth   Australasia 1:05.2 Q
3 Harold Hardwick   Australasia 1:06.0
4 Robert Andersson   Sweden 1:10.0
László Beleznai   Hungary DNS
Georges Rigal   France DNS

Quarterfinal 2Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Duke Kahanamoku   United States 1:03.8 Q
2 Walter Ramme   Germany 1:07.8 Q
3 Nicholas Nerich   United States 1:08.8
Max Ritter   Germany 1:08.8
Erik Bergqvist   Sweden DNS
Harald Julin   Sweden DNS

Quarterfinal 3Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Ken Huszagh   United States 1:04.2 Q
2 Perry McGillivray   United States 1:04.4 Q
3 Cecil Healy   Australasia 1:04.8 q
4 Leslie Boardman   Australasia 1:05.4
5 Paul Radmilovic   Great Britain 1:19.0
Mario Massa   Italy DNS q*


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 1Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Cecil Healy   Australasia 1:05.6 Q
2 Walter Ramme   Germany 1:05.8 Q
3 William Longworth   Australasia 1:06.2 q

Semifinal 2Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Kurt Bretting   Germany 1:04.6 Q

Semifinal 3Edit

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
1 Duke Kahanamoku   United States 1:02.4 Q, =WR
2 Ken Huszagh   United States 1:06.2 Q
3 Perry McGillivray   United States 1:06.2
Mario Massa   Italy 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".

Rank Swimmer Nation Time Notes
  Duke Kahanamoku   United States 1:03.4
  Cecil Healy   Australasia 1:04.6
  Ken Huszagh   United States 1:05.6
4 Kurt Bretting   Germany 1:05.8
5 Walter Ramme   Germany 1:06.4
6 William Longworth   Australasia DNS

Results summaryEdit

Rank Swimmer Nation Heats Quarterfinals Semifinals Final Notes
  Duke Kahanamoku   United States 1:02.6 1:03.8 1:02.4 1:03.4
  Cecil Healy   Australasia 1:05.2 1:04.8 1:05.6 1:04.6
  Ken Huszagh   United States 1:06.2 1:04.2 1:06.2 1:05.6
4 Kurt Bretting   Germany 1:07.0 1:04.2 1:04.6 1:05.8
5 Walter Ramme   Germany 1:10.2 1:07.8 1:05.8 1:06.4
6 William Longworth   Australasia 1:05.2 1:05.2 1:06.2 DNS
7 Perry McGillivray   United States 1:04.8 1:04.4 1:06.2 Did not advance
8 Mario Massa   Italy 1:11.8 DNS DNF Did not advance To semifinals by dispensation
9 Leslie Boardman   Australasia 1:06.0 1:05.4 Did not advance
10 Harold Hardwick   Australasia 1:05.8 1:06.0 Did not advance
11 Nicholas Nerich   United States 1:07.6 1:08.8 Did not advance
Max Ritter   Germany 1:08.0 1:08.8 Did not advance
13 Robert Andersson   Sweden 1:09.4 1:10.0 Did not advance
14 Paul Radmilovic   Great Britain 1:10.4 1:19.0 Did not advance
15 László Beleznai   Hungary 1:08.0 DNS Did not advance
Erik Bergqvist   Sweden 1:13.4 DNS Did not advance
Harald Julin   Sweden 1:11.8 DNS Did not advance
Georges Rigal   France 1:17.8 DNS Did not advance
19 John Derbyshire   Great Britain 1:09.2 Did not advance
20 Harry Hebner   United States 1:10.4 Did not advance
21 Theodore Tartakover   Australasia 1:12.2 Did not advance
22 Erik Andersson   Sweden 1:13.0 Did not advance
23 Jules Wuyts   Belgium 1:13.6 Did not advance
24 Andreas Asimakopoulos   Greece 1:15.4 Did not advance
Herman Meyboom   Belgium 1:15.4 Did not advance
26 Gérard Meister   France 1:16.6 Did not advance
27 John Johnsen   Norway 1:19.2 Did not advance
28 László Szentgróthy   Hungary Unknown Did not advance 3rd in heat
29 James Reilly   United States Unknown Did not advance 4th in heat
Herbert von Kuhlberg   Russia Unknown Did not advance 4th in heat
31 Davide Baiardo   Italy Unknown Did not advance 4th to 6th in heat
Walther Binner   Germany Unknown Did not advance 4th to 6th in heat
Alajos Kenyery   Hungary Unknown Did not advance 4th to 6th in heat
34 Georg Kunisch   Germany Unknown Did not advance 5th in heat


  1. ^ "Swimming at the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games: Men's 100 metres Freestyle". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b "100 metres Freestyle, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  3. ^ Official Report, p. 1069.


  • 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.