| Event type

400 metres Individual Medley, Women

Date28 July 2012
LocationLondon Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, Stratford, London
Participants35 from 28 countries
Olympic Record 4:29.45 WR / Steph Rice AUS / 10 August 2008

The pre-race favorite was American Elizabeth Beisel, who had won the 2011 World Championship. The defending gold medalist was Australian Steph Rice, but Beisel now had her number. Beisel had the fastest qualifier with 4:31.68 but was followed closely by surprising Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who posted 4:31.73. It was surprising because her PR coming into London was only 4:33.55 from October 2011 and she had improved dramatically within the last year.

The final saw the lead exchanged several times with Hungarian Katinka Hosszú leading on the butterfly and backstroke legs, but Beisel took over on the breaststroke, only to see Ye pass her just before the final stroke change. The final freestyle was all Ye, who came home in 58.68, with the final 50 done in a stunning 28.93, for a world record 4:28.43. This was the first individual world record since the skinsuit era, and was over a second better than Rice’s world record set in winning this event in Beijing. Beisel took silver, while Ye’s teammate Li Xuanxu came home for the bronze, Hosszú finishing fourth, with Rice back in a tie for fourth with American Caitlin Leverenz.

Ye’s victory was not without some controversy, as her finish was stunning, but some thought it was “too good”. In his 400 IM gold medal on the same night, Ryan Lochte had finished in only 58.65 for the final 100, and Ye actually outswam him on the final 50, as he posted 29.10. Several American coaches and officials openly said that Ye’s mark had to be performance enhanced, though she passed all her drug tests, and the IOC actually had to come to Ye’s defense in a press release. It was redolent of the 1976 Olympics when Shirley Babashoff made similar comments about the East German female swimmers, allegations which in that case were eventually proven to be true.

1Ye ShiwenCHN4:31.73 (1 h3)4:28.43 (1)Gold
2Elizabeth BeiselUSA4:31.68 (1 h5)4:31.27 (2)Silver
3Li XuanxuCHN4:34.28 (2 h5)4:32.91 (3)Bronze
4Katinka HosszúHUN4:33.77 (2 h3)4:33.49 (4)
5Hannah MileyGBR4:34.98 (1 h4)4:34.17 (5)
=6Steph RiceAUS4:35.76 (2 h4)4:35.49 (=6)
=6Caitlin LeverenzUSA4:36.09 (3 h4)4:35.49 (=6)
8Mireia BelmonteESP4:34.70 (3 h5)4:35.62 (8)
9Zsu JakabosHUN4:37.37 (3 h3)
10Anja KlinarSLO4:38.20 (4 h5)
11Aimee WillmottGBR4:38.87 (5 h5)
12Miyu OtsukaJPN4:39.13 (4 h4)
13Blair EvansAUS4:40.42 (6 h5)
14Stina GardellSWE4:41.66 (5 h4)
15Barbora ZávadováCZE4:41.84 (4 h3)
16Kathryn MeaklimRSA4:43.46 (6 h4)
17Kim Seo-YeongKOR4:43.99 (1 h2)
18Lara GrangeonFRA4:44.28 (7 h5)
19Natalie WiegersmaNZL4:44.78 (5 h3)
20Miho TakahashiJPN4:45.10 (6 h3)
21Stephanie HornerCAN4:45.49 (2 h2)
22Stefania PirozziITA4:45.61 (7 h4)
23Jördis SteineggerAUT4:45.80 (8 h4)
24Yana MartynovaRUS4:45.94 (7 h3)
25Claudia DascaESP4:46.80 (8 h3)
26Hanna DzerkalUKR4:48.19 (3 h2)
27Andreína PintoVEN4:48.64 (4 h2)
28Nguyễn Thị Ánh ViênVIE4:50.32 (1 h1)
29Susana EscobarMEX4:50.57 (2 h1)
30Sara NordenstamNOR4:51.28 (5 h2)
31Karolina SzczepaniakPOL4:52.50 (6 h2)
32Sara El-BekriMAR4:53.21 (7 h2)
33Noora LaukkanenFIN4:53.54 (3 h1)
34Georgina BardachARG4:57.31 (8 h2)
35Anum BandeyPAK5:34.64 (4 h1)
DNSJoanna MaranhãoBRA– (DNS h5)

Round One (28 July 2012 — 11:17)

Fastest eight swimmers advanced to final

Heat One (11:17)

13Nguyễn Thị Ánh ViênVIE4:50.320.79
24Susana EscobarMEX4:50.570.69
35Noora LaukkanenFIN4:53.540.69
46Anum BandeyPAK5:34.640.89

Heat Two (11:25)

15Kim Seo-YeongKOR4:43.990.68
24Stephanie HornerCAN4:45.490.72
37Hanna DzerkalUKR4:48.190.79
46Andreína PintoVEN4:48.640.76
58Sara NordenstamNOR4:51.280.81
61Karolina SzczepaniakPOL4:52.500.71
72Sara El-BekriMAR4:53.210.75
83Georgina BardachARG4:57.310.75

Heat Three (11:31)

15Ye ShiwenCHN4:31.730.76Q
24Katinka HosszúHUN4:33.770.81Q
33Zsu JakabosHUN4:37.370.79
46Barbora ZávadováCZE4:41.840.77
58Natalie WiegersmaNZL4:44.780.66
62Miho TakahashiJPN4:45.100.82
77Yana MartynovaRUS4:45.940.73
81Claudia DascaESP4:46.800.71

Heat Four (11:38)

14Hannah MileyGBR4:34.980.72Q
25Steph RiceAUS4:35.760.73Q
33Caitlin LeverenzUSA4:36.090.73Q
46Miyu OtsukaJPN4:39.130.69
57Stina GardellSWE4:41.660.73
62Kathryn MeaklimRSA4:43.460.81
71Stefania PirozziITA4:45.610.77
88Jördis SteineggerAUT4:45.800.81

Heat Five (11:44)

14Elizabeth BeiselUSA4:31.680.71Q
25Li XuanxuCHN4:34.280.74Q
33Mireia BelmonteESP4:34.700.73Q
41Anja KlinarSLO4:38.200.89
52Aimee WillmottGBR4:38.870.78
66Blair EvansAUS4:40.420.73
77Lara GrangeonFRA4:44.280.70
DNS8Joanna MaranhãoBRA

Final (28 July 2012 — 20:11)

15Ye ShiwenCHN4:28.430.74WR
24Elizabeth BeiselUSA4:31.270.70
36Li XuanxuCHN4:32.910.75
43Katinka HosszúHUN4:33.490.77
57Hannah MileyGBR4:34.170.68
=61Steph RiceAUS4:35.490.77
=68Caitlin LeverenzUSA4:35.490.74
82Mireia BelmonteESP4:35.620.71