| Event type

400 metres Freestyle, Women

Date5 – 7 August 1948
LocationWembley Arena, Wembley, London
Participants19 from 11 countries

The same protagonists from the 100m were favoured in the 400m freestyle although American Ann Curtis was considered stronger at this event than at the shorter distances. The shock of the heats was the collapse of the 100m gold medallist and hot favourite, Greta Andersen, who blacked out in the water just beyond the 200m mark and had to be rescued from the pool. Karen Margrethe Harup, also of Denmark, broke the Olympic record in the semi-finals and emerged as the greatest threat to an American victory. In the final Curtis held her effort until the final 100m then breezed past the opposition to record a clear victory. Harup narrowly held on to silver with a fast finishing Cathie Gibson gaining the host nation’s only aquatic medal of the 1948 games with the bronze

1Ann CurtisUSA5:32.0 (2 h1)5:26.4 (1 h2)5:17.8 (1)Gold
2Karen Margrethe HarupDEN5:31.7 (1 h1)5:25.7 (1 h1)5:21.2 (2)Silver
3Cathie GibsonGBR5:26.9 (1 h2)5:31.0 (4 h2)5:22.5 (3)Bronze
4Fernande CaroenBEL5:29.2 (2 h2)5:26.1 (2 h1)5:25.3 (4)
5Brenda HelserUSA5:30.0 (=1 h3)5:28.1 (2 h2)5:26.0 (5)
6Piedade Coutinho-TavaresBRA5:30.0 (=1 h3)5:31.1 (3 h1)5:29.4 (6)
7Fritze CarstensenDEN5:29.4 (3 h2)5:29.5 (3 h2)5:29.4 (7)
8Nancy LeesUSA5:29.6 (4 h2)5:31.9 (4 h1)5:32.9 (8)
5 h1 r2/3Pat NielsenGBR5:40.4 (3 h3)5:39.5 (5 h1)
5 h2 r2/3Colette ThomasFRA5:32.9 (3 h1)5:35.3 (5 h2)
6 h1 r2/3Magda BrüggemannMEX5:43.8 (5 h3)5:42.4 (6 h1)
6 h2 r2/3Denise SpencerAUS5:40.9 (4 h3)5:35.6 (6 h2)
7 h1 r2/3Vivian KingCAN5:54.8 (5 h2)5:52.7 (7 h1)
7 h2 r2/3Margaret WellingtonGBR5:40.0 (5 h1)5:38.2 (7 h2)
8 h2 r2/3Eileen HoltARG5:44.9 (6 h3)5:52.4 (8 h2)
4 h1 r1/3Gisela ThidholmSWE5:34.5 (4 h1)– (DNS h1)
6 h1 r1/3Kay McNameeCAN5:58.7 (6 h1)
7 h1 r1/3Enriqueta DuarteARG6:14.4 (7 h1)
AC h3 r1/3Greta AndersenDEN– (DNF h3)DNF
DNSTalita RodríguesBRA– (DNS h2)
DNSJosette ArèneFRA– (DNS h3)
DNSÉva SzékelyHUN– (DNS h2)
DNSHannie TermeulenNED– (DNS h1)

Round One (5 August 1948 — 16:00)

Top four in each heat and the next four fastest advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat One

13Karen Margrethe HarupDEN5:31.7Q
27Ann CurtisUSA5:32.0Q
35Colette ThomasFRA5:32.9Q
48Gisela ThidholmSWE5:34.5Q
51Margaret WellingtonGBR5:40.0q
64Kay McNameeCAN5:58.7
76Enriqueta DuarteARG6:14.4
DNS2Hannie TermeulenNED

Heat Two

13Cathie GibsonGBR5:26.9Q
22Fernande CaroenBEL5:29.2Q
31Fritze CarstensenDEN5:29.4Q
46Nancy LeesUSA5:29.6Q
55Vivian KingCAN5:54.8q
DNS4Talita RodríguesBRA
DNS7Éva SzékelyHUN

Heat Three

=11Brenda HelserUSA5:30.0Q
=12Piedade Coutinho-TavaresBRA5:30.0Q1
37Pat NielsenGBR5:40.4Q
48Denise SpencerAUS5:40.9Q
56Magda BrüggemannMEX5:43.8q
64Eileen HoltARG5:44.9q
DNF3Greta AndersenDEN
DNS5Josette ArèneFRA

Semi-Finals (6 August 1948 — 11:00)

Top three in each heat and the next two fastest advanced to the final.

Heat One

13Karen Margrethe HarupDEN5:25.7QOR
25Fernande CaroenBEL5:26.1Q
36Piedade Coutinho-TavaresBRA5:31.1Q
44Nancy LeesUSA5:31.9q
52Pat NielsenGBR5:39.5
68Magda BrüggemannMEX5:42.4
71Vivian KingCAN5:52.7
DNS7Gisela ThidholmSWE

Heat Two

13Ann CurtisUSA5:26.4Q
26Brenda HelserUSA5:28.1Q
34Fritze CarstensenDEN5:29.5Q
45Cathie GibsonGBR5:31.0q
57Colette ThomasFRA5:35.3
68Denise SpencerAUS5:35.6
72Margaret WellingtonGBR5:38.2
81Eileen HoltARG5:52.4

Final (7 August 1948 — 15:00)

16Ann CurtisUSA5:17.8OR
25Karen Margrethe HarupDEN5:21.2
32Cathie GibsonGBR5:22.5
44Fernande CaroenBEL5:25.3
53Brenda HelserUSA5:26.0
68Piedade Coutinho-TavaresBRA5:29.4
77Fritze CarstensenDEN5:29.4
81Nancy LeesUSA5:32.9