| Event type

400 metres Freestyle, Men

Date31 July – 4 August 1948
LocationWembley Arena, Wembley, London
Participants41 from 21 countries
Olympic Record 4:44.5 / Jack Medica USA / 12 August 1936

Frenchman Alex Jany entered the competition as world record holder and a solid favourite for all three freestyle titles but he had disappointed in the sprint event and would withdraw from the 1500m. Jany did reach the final of the 400m but his qualification was overshadowed by a duo of Americans, Bill Smith and Jimmy McLane, and by the 100m bronze medallist, Hungary’s Géza Kádas. It was Smith who set the pace in the final and only his team-mate McLane, who started slowly but then moved through the pack, could challenge him. At the 200m mark the two Americans battled for the lead but Smith had enough in hand to pull away to a comfortable victory breaking the Olympic record in the process. McLane finished in second with the Australian John Marshal holding off the Hungarian challenge for the bronze medal. Jany finished sixth in a time fully fifteen seconds off his best. Bill Smith had contracted Typhoid as a child and took to swimming as a way to rebuild his strength. Hironoshin Furuhashi of Japan set a world record for this event in 1949 and would have been amongst the favourites if Japan had been permitted to compete.

1Bill SmithUSA4:45.3 (1 h6)4:48.4 (2 h2)4:41.0 (1)Gold
2Jimmy McLaneUSA4:42.2 (1 h1)4:49.5 (1 h1)4:43.4 (2)Silver
3John MarshallAUS4:51.4 (2 h6)4:50.0 (2 h1)4:47.4 (3)Bronze
4Géza KádasHUN4:52.8 (1 h5)4:47.8 (1 h2)4:49.4 (4)
5György MitróHUN4:56.0 (1 h4)4:50.8 (3 h1)4:49.9 (5)
6Alex JanyFRA4:53.3 (2 h3)4:51.3 (3 h2)4:51.4 (6)
7Jack HaleGBR4:53.3 (1 h3)4:51.4 (4 h1)4:55.9 (7)
8Alfredo YantornoARG4:53.8 (1 h2)4:57.3 (4 h2)4:58.7 (8)
5 h1 r2/3Marijan StipetićYUG5:01.4 (3 h3)4:58.6 (5 h1)
5 h2 r2/3Bill HeusnerUSA4:58.3 (2 h4)4:57.4 (5 h2)
6 h1 r2/3Miroslav BartůšekTCH4:57.9 (3 h2)4:58.7 (6 h1)
6 h2 r2/3Janko PuharYUG5:00.8 (3 h6)4:58.7 (6 h2)
7 h1 r2/3Branko VidovićYUG4:58.7 (3 h4)4:59.4 (7 h1)
7 h2 r2/3Don JohnstonRSA4:57.4 (2 h2)4:59.5 (7 h2)
2 h1 r1/3Imre NyékiHUN5:01.8 (2 h1)– (DNS h2)
2 h5 r1/3Per-Olof ÖstrandSWE4:53.5 (2 h5)– (DNS h1)
3 h1 r1/3Roy BothamGBR5:03.4 (3 h1)
3 h5 r1/3Florbel PérezURU5:04.7 (3 h5)
4 h1 r1/3José DurañonaARG5:05.8 (4 h1)
4 h2 r1/3Jo BernardoFRA5:03.8 (4 h2)
4 h3 r1/3Garrick AgnewAUS5:06.1 (4 h3)
4 h4 r1/3Isidoro Martínez-VelaESP5:10.0 (4 h4)
4 h5 r1/3René CornuFRA5:05.2 (4 h5)
4 h6 r1/3Luis GonzálezCOL5:02.1 (4 h6)
5 h1 r1/3Alejandro FebreroESP5:16.9 (5 h1)
5 h2 r1/3Doug GibsonCAN5:13.4 (5 h2)
5 h3 r1/3Luis ChildCOL5:08.5 (5 h3)
5 h4 r1/3Juan GarayARG5:10.4 (5 h4)
5 h5 r1/3Isidoro PérezESP5:16.1 (5 h5)
5 h6 r1/3Ari GuðmundssonISL5:16.2 (5 h6)
6 h1 r1/3Robert CookBER5:37.9 (6 h1)
6 h2 r1/3Walter SchneiderSUI5:25.5 (6 h2)
6 h3 r1/3Allen GilchristCAN5:21.5 (6 h3)
6 h4 r1/3Derek OatwayBER5:20.9 (6 h4)
6 h5 r1/3Sambiao BasanungPHI5:21.5 (6 h5)
6 h6 r1/3Tom HoltGBR5:20.7 (6 h6)
7 h1 r1/3Jack HakimEGY5:40.3 (7 h1)
7 h2 r1/3Walter BardgettBER5:37.2 (7 h2)
7 h3 r1/3Anwar Aziz ChaudhryPAK6:17.4 (7 h3)
7 h4 r1/3Bimal ChandraIND5:38.6 (7 h4)
7 h6 r1/3Sultan Karim AliPAK7:16.9 (7 h6)
DNSTaha El-GamalEGY– (DNS h4)
DNSSachin NagIND– (DNS h5)
DNSWilliam JonesIRL– (DNS h1)
DNSRamón BravoMEX– (DNS h5)
DNSÁngel MaldonadoMEX– (DNS h2)

Round One (31 July – 2 August 1948)

Top two in each heat and the next four fastest advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat One (31 July 1948 — 19:00)

13Jimmy McLaneUSA4:42.2QOR
25Imre NyékiHUN5:01.8Q
36Roy BothamGBR5:03.4
44José DurañonaARG5:05.8
58Alejandro FebreroESP5:16.9
62Robert CookBER5:37.9
77Jack HakimEGY5:40.3
DNS1William JonesIRL

Heat Two

16Alfredo YantornoARG4:53.8Q
24Don JohnstonRSA4:57.4Q
35Miroslav BartůšekTCH4:57.9q
41Jo BernardoFRA5:03.8
58Doug GibsonCAN5:13.4
63Walter SchneiderSUI5:25.5
72Walter BardgettBER5:37.2
DNS7Ángel MaldonadoMEX

Heat Three

11Jack HaleGBR4:53.3Q
23Alex JanyFRA4:53.3Q
35Marijan StipetićYUG5:01.4q
42Garrick AgnewAUS5:06.1
56Luis ChildCOL5:08.5
67Allen GilchristCAN5:21.5
74Anwar Aziz ChaudhryPAK6:17.4

Heat Four (2 August 1948 — 19:00)

12György MitróHUN4:56.0Q
28Bill HeusnerUSA4:58.3Q
37Branko VidovićYUG4:58.7q
41Isidoro Martínez-VelaESP5:10.0
56Juan GarayARG5:10.4
64Derek OatwayBER5:20.9
73Bimal ChandraIND5:38.6
DNS5Taha El-GamalEGY

Heat Five

18Géza KádasHUN4:52.8Q
24Per-Olof ÖstrandSWE4:53.5Q
31Florbel PérezURU5:04.7
46René CornuFRA5:05.2
53Isidoro PérezESP5:16.1
65Sambiao BasanungPHI5:21.5
DNS2Sachin NagIND
DNS7Ramón BravoMEX

Heat Six

13Bill SmithUSA4:45.3Q
27John MarshallAUS4:51.4Q
35Janko PuharYUG5:00.8q
42Luis GonzálezCOL5:02.1
51Ari GuðmundssonISL5:16.2
66Tom HoltGBR5:20.7
74Sultan Karim AliPAK7:16.9

Semi-Finals (2 August 1948 — 21:00)

Top two in each heat and the next four fastest advanced to the final.

Heat One

15Jimmy McLaneUSA4:49.5Q
24John MarshallAUS4:50.0Q
37György MitróHUN4:50.8q
46Jack HaleGBR4:51.4q
51Marijan StipetićYUG4:58.6
62Miroslav BartůšekTCH4:58.7
78Branko VidovićYUG4:59.4
DNS3Per-Olof ÖstrandSWE

Heat Two

14Géza KádasHUN4:47.8Q
25Bill SmithUSA4:48.4Q
36Alex JanyFRA4:51.3q
43Alfredo YantornoARG4:57.3q
52Bill HeusnerUSA4:57.4
68Janko PuharYUG4:58.7
77Don JohnstonRSA4:59.5
DNS1Imre NyékiHUN

Final (4 August 1948 — 19:00)

14Bill SmithUSA4:41.0OR
26Jimmy McLaneUSA4:43.4
33John MarshallAUS4:47.4
45Géza KádasHUN4:49.4
57György MitróHUN4:49.9
62Alex JanyFRA4:51.4
78Jack HaleGBR4:55.9
81Alfredo YantornoARG4:58.7