Otto Scheff

Biographical information

Medals OG IG
Gold 0 1
Silver 0 0
Bronze 1 1
Total 1 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games, Competed in Intercalated Games, Non-starter
Full nameOtto Friedrich Wilhelm•Scheff (Sochaczewsky-)
Used nameOtto•Scheff
Other namesOtto Sheff
Born12 December 1889 in Berlin, Berlin (GER)
Died26 October 1956 in Maria Enzersdorf (AUT)
AffiliationsWAC, Wien (AUT)
NOC Austria


Born in Berlin, Germany to the family of Jewish writer Heinrich Sochaczewsky (who published his works under the pseudonym Victor von Falk), Otto Scheff grew up in Wien (Vienna), Austria. Scheff, who was considered the world’s premier middle-distance freestyler in the trudgeon stroke era, made his international début in 1905 at the international tournament held in Paris, termed the World Championships, where he was third in the 500 m freestyle behind British David “Boy” Billington and Eric Forsyth. Scheff also won the Prix de l’Avenir at that tournament as the best swimmer under 16-years-old. At the 1906 Intercalated Olympics, Scheff won 400 freestyle gold, after a close battle with Britain’s Henry Taylor, and was third in the mile freestyle. In 1907, Scheff again competed in Paris at the “World Championships”, winning gold in the 500 free.

At the 1908 Olympics, Scheff won bronze in 400 free and reached the final of the 1,500 metres, but abandoned the race after 400 metres. Scheff made his last international appearance at the 1912 Olympics, where he was a member of the Austrian water polo team that finished fourth.

Scheff graduated from the University of Vienna in 1913 with a law degree and later had a successful career as a lawyer. From 1945-53, he was a member of the National Council of Austria (Nationalrat) as a member of Austrian People’s Party and from 1948-56 served as the vice-president of the Austrian Olympic Committee. Scheff was inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1988. His daughter Gertraud Scheff also became an international level swimmer, who qualified for the cancelled 1940 Olympics.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1906 Intercalated Games Swimming (Aquatics) AUT Otto Scheff
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Intercalated) DNS
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Intercalated) 1 Gold
1 mile Freestyle, Men (Intercalated) 3 Bronze
4 × 250 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Intercalated) Austria AC
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) AUT Otto Scheff
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 4 h2 r2/3
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC r3/3
1912 Summer Olympics Water Polo (Aquatics) AUT Otto Scheff
Water Polo, Men (Olympic) Austria 4
Swimming (Aquatics) AUT Otto Scheff
100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS

Special Notes