| Event type

200 metres Breaststroke, Women

Date30 July – 3 August 1948
LocationWembley Arena, Wembley, London
Participants22 from 14 countries

While American contestants had vied for and, more often than not, won medals in the other events in the programmes, the women’s breaststroke uniquely saw nobody from the US team reach even the semi-final. The favourite for the gold was the 22 year old Dutchwoman, Nel van Vliet, who had not even learned to swim until the age of sixteen. Although she was the world record holder, her path to the represent the Netherlands in international competition was not smooth. Her father had not registered her birth and a passport could not be obtained until he appeared in court and paid a fine. Van Vliet broke the Olympic record in her heat but the two Hungarian Évas, Székely and Novák, were also in fine form as was the Australian schoolgirl Nancy Lyons. Éva Székely set the pace in the final but her butterfly technique soon faltered and the duo of Van Vliet and Novák moved away from the rest of the field. The race developed into a duel between the two and it was not until the final length that van Vliet moved clear of her rival. In third place at the start of the final 50m was Lyons. She had already moved through from fifth to fourth to third and now she would make an last desperate to catch the leaders. Moving past a tiring Novák she surged onwards and at the end of the race was only a half second behind the winner Van Vliet. Shortly after returning home, Van Vliet’s medal was stolen from her parent’s home. It was only in 2004 that she was awarded a replacement medal by Dutch IOC member Erica Terpstra, herself an Olympic swimmer.

1Nel van VlietNED2:57.4 (1 h3)2:57.0 (1 h2)2:57.2 (1)Gold
2Nancy LyonsAUS3:02.9 (1 h1)3:00.9 (1 h1)2:57.7 (2)Silver
3Éva NovákHUN3:02.9 (2 h1)2:58.0 (2 h2)3:00.2 (3)Bronze
4Éva SzékelyHUN3:01.2 (1 h2)3:02.8 (3 h1)3:02.5 (4)
5Jannie de GrootNED3:04.4 (3 h1)3:01.4 (2 h1)3:06.2 (5)
6Elizabeth ChurchGBR3:07.4 (4 h1)3:07.1 (5 h2)3:06.1 (6)
7Tonnie HomNED3:06.0 (2 h2)3:05.7 (4 h2)3:07.5 (7)
8Jytte HansenDEN3:09.1 (2 h3)3:05.5 (3 h2)3:08.1 (8)
4 h1 r2/3Yvonne VandekerckhoveBEL3:09.0 (3 h2)3:09.7 (4 h1)
5 h1 r2/3Jacqueline BertrandFRA3:10.7 (4 h2)3:13.1 (5 h1)
6 h1 r2/3Jean CaplinGBR3:17.0 (5 h2)3:14.4 (6 h1)
6 h2 r2/3Margit LeskinenFIN3:11.4 (3 h3)3:10.0 (6 h2)
7 h1 r2/3Dorotea TurnbullARG3:12.2 (5 h1)3:14.4 (7 h1)
7 h2 r2/3Lilo KobiSUI3:16.2 (6 h1)3:13.9 (7 h2)
8 h1 r2/3Irene StrongCAN3:14.2 (5 h3)3:16.9 (8 h1)
8 h2 r2/3Elenor GordonGBR3:13.3 (4 h3)3:15.8 (8 h2)
6 h2 r1/3Helga DiederichsenMEX3:27.8 (6 h2)
6 h3 r1/3Clara LaMoreUSA3:23.6 (6 h3)
7 h1 r1/3Jeanne WilsonUSA3:18.3 (7 h1)
7 h2 r1/3Penny PenceUSA3:28.1 (7 h2)
7 h3 r1/3Þórdís ÁrnadóttirISL3:26.1 (7 h3)
8 h1 r1/3Anna ÓlafsdóttirISL3:19.9 (8 h1)

Round One (30 July 1948 — 14:00)

Top four in each heat and the next four fastest qualified for the semi-finals.

Heat One

16Nancy LyonsAUS3:02.9Q
25Éva NovákHUN3:02.9Q
32Jannie de GrootNED3:04.4Q
47Elizabeth ChurchGBR3:07.4Q
53Dorotea TurnbullARG3:12.2q
64Lilo KobiSUI3:16.2q
78Jeanne WilsonUSA3:18.3
81Anna ÓlafsdóttirISL3:19.9

Heat Two

12Éva SzékelyHUN3:01.2QOR
26Tonnie HomNED3:06.0Q
31Yvonne VandekerckhoveBEL3:09.0Q
44Jacqueline BertrandFRA3:10.7Q
55Jean CaplinGBR3:17.0q
63Helga DiederichsenMEX3:27.8
77Penny PenceUSA3:28.1

Heat Three

13Nel van VlietNED2:57.4QOR
24Jytte HansenDEN3:09.1Q
35Margit LeskinenFIN3:11.4Q
41Elenor GordonGBR3:13.3Q
57Irene StrongCAN3:14.2q
66Clara LaMoreUSA3:23.6
72Þórdís ÁrnadóttirISL3:26.1

Semi-Finals (31 July 1948 — 14:00)

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

Heat One

14Nancy LyonsAUS3:00.9Q
26Jannie de GrootNED3:01.4Q
35Éva SzékelyHUN3:02.8Q
43Yvonne VandekerckhoveBEL3:09.7
57Jacqueline BertrandFRA3:13.1
61Jean CaplinGBR3:14.4
72Dorotea TurnbullARG3:14.4
88Irene StrongCAN3:16.9

Heat Two

15Nel van VlietNED2:57.0QOR
24Éva NovákHUN2:58.0Q
37Jytte HansenDEN3:05.5Q
46Tonnie HomNED3:05.7q
53Elizabeth ChurchGBR3:07.1q
62Margit LeskinenFIN3:10.0
71Lilo KobiSUI3:13.9
88Elenor GordonGBR3:15.8

Final (3 August 1948 — 21:00)

15Nel van VlietNED2:57.2
26Nancy LyonsAUS2:57.7
34Éva NovákHUN3:00.2
47Éva SzékelyHUN3:02.5
53Jannie de GrootNED3:06.2
61Elizabeth ChurchGBR3:06.1
78Tonnie HomNED3:07.5
82Jytte HansenDEN3:08.1