| Event type

400 metres Freestyle, Women

Date5 – 7 December 1956
LocationOlympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants26 from 13 countries

In preparation races for the Melbourne Olympics Lorraine Crapp broke the world record, set by Ragnhild Hveger of Denmark in 1940. As in the 100 m freestyle that was contested a few days earlier, Crapp’s main rival was fellow countrywoman Dawn Fraser, but over the longer distance Crapp was favoured to reverse the result of the earlier race and become Olympic champion.

The final matched the popular prediction with Fraser leading the race in the early stages before the superior stamina of Crapp became the decisive factor. Crapp won the gold medal with a huge margin of eight seconds to spare over Fraser with 14-year-old Californian Sylvia Ruuska finishing third. All three medallists would compete in 1960 in Rome although only Fraser would compete outside a relay.

1Lorraine CrappAUS5:00.2 (1 h4)4:54.6 (1)Gold
2Dawn FraserAUS5:02.5 (1 h3)5:02.5 (2)Silver
3Sylvia RuuskaUSA5:10.3 (2 h3)5:07.1 (3)Bronze
4Marley ShriverUSA5:07.6 (1 h2)5:12.9 (4)
5Ripszima SzékelyHUN5:10.5 (3 h3)5:14.2 (5)
6Sandra MorganAUS5:07.8 (2 h2)5:14.3 (6)
7Héda FrostFRA5:14.4 (2 h1)5:15.4 (7)
8Valéria GyengeHUN5:14.2 (1 h1)5:21.0 (8)
9Susan GrayUSA5:16.7 (2 h4)
=10Susan RobertsRSA5:16.8 (4 h3)
=10Natalie MyburghRSA5:16.8 (3 h4)
12Karin LarssonSWE5:18.3 (3 h1)
13Marrion RoeNZL5:18.5 (4 h4)
14Ingrid KünzelGER5:20.8 (3 h2)
15Beth WhittallCAN5:21.7 (4 h1)
16Margaret GirvanGBR5:23.6 (5 h4)
17Colette ThomasFRA5:23.9 (5 h3)
18Gilda ArandaMEX5:24.2 (6 h4)
19Birgitta WängbergSWE5:27.0 (6 h3)
20Eiko WadaJPN5:27.2 (7 h3)
21Gladys PriestleyCAN5:27.5 (4 h2)
22Yukiko OtakaJPN5:28.7 (7 h4)
23Anita HellströmSWE5:29.2 (5 h2)
24Viviane GouverneurFRA5:29.7 (6 h2)
25Winifred GriffinNZL5:31.0 (5 h1)
26Gertrudes LozadaPHI5:34.2 (6 h1)
DNSJeanette MyburghRSA– (DNS h1)
DNSMargaret NorthropKEN– (DNS h2)

Round One (5 December 1956 — 15:20)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One

16Valéria GyengeHUN5:14.2Q
25Héda FrostFRA5:14.4Q
34Karin LarssonSWE5:18.3
41Beth WhittallCAN5:21.7
53Winifred GriffinNZL5:31.0
67Gertrudes LozadaPHI5:34.2
DNS2Jeanette MyburghRSA

Heat Two

14Marley ShriverUSA5:07.6QOR
26Sandra MorganAUS5:07.8Q
32Ingrid KünzelGER5:20.8
43Gladys PriestleyCAN5:27.5
55Anita HellströmSWE5:29.2
61Viviane GouverneurFRA5:29.7
DNS7Margaret NorthropKEN

Heat Three

15Dawn FraserAUS5:02.5QOR
23Sylvia RuuskaUSA5:10.3Q
36Ripszima SzékelyHUN5:10.5Q
47Susan RobertsRSA5:16.8
52Colette ThomasFRA5:23.9
64Birgitta WängbergSWE5:27.0
71Eiko WadaJPN5:27.2

Heat Four

16Lorraine CrappAUS5:00.2QOR
24Susan GrayUSA5:16.7
33Natalie MyburghRSA5:16.8
45Marrion RoeNZL5:18.5
51Margaret GirvanGBR5:23.6
62Gilda ArandaMEX5:24.2
77Yukiko OtakaJPN5:28.7

Final (7 December 1956 — 19:30)

14Lorraine CrappAUS4:54.6OR
25Dawn FraserAUS5:02.5
32Sylvia RuuskaUSA5:07.1
43Marley ShriverUSA5:12.9
57Ripszima SzékelyHUN5:14.2
66Sandra MorganAUS5:14.3
78Héda FrostFRA5:15.4
81Valéria GyengeHUN5:21.0