| Event type

200 metres Breaststroke, Women

Date29 – 30 November 1956
LocationOlympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants14 from 10 countries

On November 13th, just nine days before the start of the Olympic Games, Ada den Haan of the Netherlands shattered the world record. Sadly for the Dutchwoman, it was already known that she would not be going to Melbourne as the Dutch team had been withdrawn from the Games as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Hungary. She heard about the boycott while showing off her Olympic outfit to her club mates. At that point, her coach decided she’d do a world record attempt - a race specifically to set a record, with Den Haan swimming alone against the clock. Without Den Haan, swimmers from Germany and, ironically, Hungary assumed the mantle of favouritism.

The main beneficiary of the Dutch absence turned out to be Germany’s Ursula Happe. Happe, at 30 years of age and the mother of two children, was much the oldest of the swimming champions of 1956. She had retired from competition in 1955, after falling pregnant for the second time, but backtracked on her decision and decided to train for the Melbourne Olympics. Happe captured the gold medal ahead of Éva Székely of Hungary with another German, Eva-Maria ten Elsen, in third. In recognition of her win, Happe was voted Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year.

1Ursula HappeGER2:54.1 (1 h1)2:53.1 (1)Gold
2Éva SzékelyHUN2:55.8 (1 h2)2:54.8 (2)Silver
3Eva-Maria ten ElsenGER2:57.5 (3 h2)2:55.1 (3)Bronze
4Vinka JeričevićYUG2:56.0 (2 h2)2:55.8 (4)
5Klára KillermannHUN2:54.6 (2 h1)2:56.1 (5)
6Elenor McKayGBR2:55.4 (3 h1)2:56.1 (6)
7Mary SearsUSA2:58.2 (4 h1)2:57.2 (7)
8Christine GosdenGBR2:58.2 (4 h2)2:59.2 (8)
9Jytte HansenDEN2:59.8 (5 h2)
10Colette GoossensBEL3:00.5 (5 h1)
11Éva Gérard-NovákBEL3:02.7 (6 h2)
12Barbara EvansAUS3:03.6 (7 h2)
13Elena ZennaroITA3:05.2 (6 h1)
14Ria TobingINA3:14.2 (8 h2)
DNSHelen StewartCAN– (DNS h1)
DNSJarmila HelešicováTCH– (DNS h1)

Round One (29 November 1956 — 15:00)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One

16Ursula HappeGER2:54.1QOR
24Klára KillermannHUN2:54.6Q
33Elenor McKayGBR2:55.4Q
45Mary SearsUSA2:58.2Q
57Colette GoossensBEL3:00.5
68Elena ZennaroITA3:05.2
DNS1Helen StewartCAN
DNS2Jarmila HelešicováTCH

Heat Two

16Éva SzékelyHUN2:55.8Q
25Vinka JeričevićYUG2:56.0Q
34Eva-Maria ten ElsenGER2:57.5Q
47Christine GosdenGBR2:58.2Q
53Jytte HansenDEN2:59.8
61Éva Gérard-NovákBEL3:02.7
78Barbara EvansAUS3:03.6
82Ria TobingINA3:14.2

Final (30 November 1956 — 20:20)

14Ursula HappeGER2:53.1OR
26Éva SzékelyHUN2:54.8
37Eva-Maria ten ElsenGER2:55.1
42Vinka JeričevićYUG2:55.8
55Klára KillermannHUN2:56.1
63Elenor McKayGBR2:56.1
71Mary SearsUSA2:57.2
88Christine GosdenGBR2:59.2