Arne Borg was one of the prominent freestyle swimmers of the 1920s. With his unusual stroke, he set 32 world records between 1921-29 and won five Olympic medals. Regarded as the “big bad man” of European swimming because of his unusual training habits, Borg was highly popular among swimming fans. As an example, after failing to show up for conscription and going on holiday instead, he was briefly imprisoned, but received food and drinks from fans, and was noted to gain weight while in jail.
Borg first competed internationally at the 1920 Olympics, where he was fourth with the Swedish 4x200 m freestyle relay team and reached the semifinals of the 1,500 freestyle. At the 1924 Olympics, Borg failed to win an Olympic title, losing to his Australian rival Boy Charlton in the 1,500, and to Johnny Weismuller in the 400, while placing fourth in the 100 freestyle and winning bronze in the 4x200 relay. However, he became the first swimmer to swim in all freestyle events finals at the Olympics, the only person to repeat that feat being Alberto Zorrilla, who achieved this feat in 1928. Borg finally got his Olympic title in Amsterdam, when he beat Charlton over 1,500 metres, and also won bronze in the 400 freestyle at the 1928 Olympics.
At the European Championships, Borg won the 400 and 1,500 metre freestyle titles in 1926, and 100, 400 and 1,500 free titles in 1927, adding a 100 m freestyle silver and 4x200 m freestyle relay bronze in 1926, and a 4x200 m freestyle relay silver in 1927. In 1926 Borg also won silver in water polo at the European championships. While winning his 1,500 m freestyle European title in 1927, Borg recorded his most notable world record, finishing in 19:07.2 and thus becoming the first person to swim 1,500 m under 20 minutes, a record that stood for nearly 12 years. Borg’s also set many other notable freestyle world records.
Borg won 40 Swedish swimming titles and four water polo titles during his career and was awarded the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal in 1926. In 1930 he turned professional and toured with aquatic shows. After that he worked as a swimming coach and ran his own tobacco shop in Stockholm. His twin brother Åke was also an international level swimmer, who won silver in the 4x200 free relay at the 1927 European Championships and bronzes in the 4x200 free relay at the 1924 Olympics and 1926 European Championships. Arne Borg was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in 1966.
Personal Bests: 100 m freestyle – 1:00.0 (1927); 400 m freestyle – 4:50.3 (1925); 1,500 m freestyle - 19:07.2 (1927).
|Games||Discipline (Sport) / Event||NOC / Team||Pos||Medal||As|
|1920 Summer Olympics||Swimming (Aquatics)||SWE||Arne Borg|
|400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||4 h4 r1/3|
|1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||4 h1 r2/3|
|4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic)||Sweden||4|
|1924 Summer Olympics||Swimming (Aquatics)||SWE||Arne Borg|
|100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||4|
|400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||2||Silver|
|1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||2||Silver|
|4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic)||Sweden||3||Bronze|
|1928 Summer Olympics||Swimming (Aquatics)||SWE||Arne Borg|
|100 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)|
|400 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||3||Bronze|
|1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic)||1||Gold|
|4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Olympic)||Sweden||5|