Swimming at the 1896 Summer Olympics

Dates 11 – 11 April 1896
Medal Events 4

The swimming events took place in the Bay of Zea off the coast of Piraeus. All four events were conducted in one day and because of this, no amphitheatre was conducted, only a few temporary buildings. However, as many as 20,000 spectators were listed as watching the swimming events on this Saturday. King Georgios arrived at about 1030 and watched the races, which began at 1100.

The water was noted to be frigid, between 12-14° C. (53-57° F.) with the air temperature 18° C. (64° F.). One story, which is most likely apocryphal, involved the only American swimmer entered, Gardner Williams. Supposedly, he jumped into the water for the start of the 100 metres, and then scrambled back to shore, yelling out, “Jesus Christ, it’s freezing.“ The story was reported by American team member Tom Curtis in an article he wrote 36 years later. However, it is highly unlikely that Williams did not venture into the water until the day of the races. Possibly it occurred during training. Secondly, Williams could not have scrambled back to shore, as the 100 metre freestyle began out in the bay and the swimmers swam towards the shore.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
100 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 11 April 1896 6 4
500 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 11 April 1896 3 2
1,200 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 11 April 1896 6 4
100 metres Freestyle For Sailors, Men Olympic 11 April 1896 3 1
13 (13/0) 4 (4/0)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 metres Freestyle, Men Alfréd HajósHUN Otto HerschmannAUT
500 metres Freestyle, Men Paul NeumannAUT Antonios PepanosGRE Efstathios KhorafasGRE
1,200 metres Freestyle, Men Alfréd HajósHUN Ioannis AndreouGRE
100 metres Freestyle For Sailors, Men Ioannis MalokinisGRE Spyros KhazapisGRE Dimitrios DrivasGRE

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Hungary HUN 2 0 0 2
Greece GRE 1 3 2 6
Austria AUT 1 1 0 2