| Event type

100 metres Freestyle, Men

Date29 – 30 November 1956
LocationOlympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants34 from 19 countries
Olympic Record 57.1 / Clarke Scholes USA / 27 July 1952

At the time of the Helsinki Olympics, Jon Henricks was the up and coming star of Australian distance swimming having won medals at 440 y, 880 y and 1650 y at the national championships. His chances of an Olympic début in 1952 were then ruined by a serious and persistent ear infection that wrecked his chances of making the Australian team. Henricks reinvented himself as a sprinter in 1953 and soon embarked on a spectacular run of success over the 100 metres or imperial equivalent. He won three gold medals at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1956 and was successful on visits to the USA and Japan as well.

As such, Henricks was the favourite for the title in Melbourne and he lived up to his billing by setting a world record on his way to the Olympic championships. It was, however, a far closer race than anyone had predicted with Henricks being chased by teammate John Devitt until the very end. Gary Chapman took bronze to compete a clean sweep for Australian on the medal podium – the first time ever Australia had swept any Olympic event. Henricks also had the honour of being the first Australian man to win Olympic gold on home soil.

In a statistical curiosity American swimmers finished in positions 4-5-6 behind the Australians in 1-2-3.

Henricks’ attempt to defend his title in Rome ended in the heats after a debilitating stomach ailment ruined his Olympics.

1Jon HenricksAUS57.3 (1 h1)55.7 (1 h1)55.4 (1)Gold
2John DevittAUS57.2 (1 h3)56.4 (1 h2)55.8 (2)Silver
3Gary ChapmanAUS57.8 (1 h5)56.9 (2 h2)56.7 (3)Bronze
4Reid PattersonUSA56.8 (1 h4)57.1 (3 h2)57.2 (4)
5Dick HanleyUSA57.8 (2 h1)56.9 (2 h1)57.6 (5)
6Bill WoolseyUSA58.2 (2 h5)58.0 (4 h2)57.6 (6)
7Atsushi TaniJPN57.1 (2 h4)57.4 (3 h1)58.0 (7)
8Aldo EminenteFRA58.0 (2 h2)58.0 (4 h1)58.1 (8)
5 h1 r2/3Hiroshi SuzukiJPN58.4 (3 h3)58.0 (5 h1)
5 h2 r2/3Gyula DobayHUN58.5 (4 h5)58.1 (5 h2)
6 h1 r2/3Vitaly SorokinURS58.6 (3 h2)58.2 (6 h1)
6 h2 r2/3Manabu KogaJPN57.7 (1 h2)58.1 (6 h2)
7 h1 r2/3Paolo PucciITA58.3 (2 h3)58.8 (7 h1)
7 h2 r2/3Paul VoellGER58.4 (4 h3)58.6 (7 h2)
8 h1 r2/3Carlo PedersoliITA58.5 (3 h4)59.0 (8 h1)
8 h2 r2/3Ronald RobertsGBR58.3 (3 h5)58.9 (8 h2)
3 h1 r1/3Billy SteuartRSA59.2 (3 h1)
4 h1 r1/3Lev BalandinURS59.6 (4 h1)
4 h2 r1/3Cheung Kin ManHKG59.8 (4 h2)
4 h4 r1/3Haroldo LaraBRA59.9 (4 h4)
5 h1 r1/3Hans KöhlerGER59.8 (5 h1)
5 h2 r1/3Horst BleekerGER1:00.1 (5 h2)
5 h3 r1/3Kenneth WilliamsGBR59.4 (5 h3)
5 h4 r1/3Habib NasutionINA1:00.1 (5 h4)
5 h5 r1/3George ParkCAN58.8 (5 h5)
6 h1 r1/3Karri KäyhköFIN59.8 (6 h1)
6 h2 r1/3Sergio MartínezCOL1:00.2 (6 h2)
6 h3 r1/3Dennis FordRSA59.5 (6 h3)
6 h4 r1/3Alex JanyFRA1:00.2 (6 h4)
6 h5 r1/3Dakula ArabaniPHI1:00.2 (6 h5)
7 h1 r1/3André LaurentBEL1:00.7 (7 h1)
7 h2 r1/3Peter DuncanRSA1:00.4 (7 h2)
7 h3 r1/3Sri Chand BajajIND1:01.6 (7 h3)
7 h5 r1/3Wan Shiu MingHKG1:00.7 (7 h5)

Round One (29 November 1956 — 14:00)

Fastest 16 advanced to the semi-finals.

Heat One

14Jon HenricksAUS57.3Q
25Dick HanleyUSA57.8Q
31Billy SteuartRSA59.2
43Lev BalandinURS59.6
57Hans KöhlerGER59.8
62Karri KäyhköFIN59.8
76André LaurentBEL1:00.7

Heat Two

14Manabu KogaJPN57.7Q
23Aldo EminenteFRA58.0Q
36Vitaly SorokinURS58.6Q
47Cheung Kin ManHKG59.8
55Horst BleekerGER1:00.1
61Sergio MartínezCOL1:00.2
72Peter DuncanRSA1:00.4

Heat Three

16John DevittAUS57.2Q
23Paolo PucciITA58.3Q
34Hiroshi SuzukiJPN58.4Q
45Paul VoellGER58.4Q
51Kenneth WilliamsGBR59.4
67Dennis FordRSA59.5
72Sri Chand BajajIND1:01.6

Heat Four

13Reid PattersonUSA56.8QOR
26Atsushi TaniJPN57.1Q
34Carlo PedersoliITA58.5Q
45Haroldo LaraBRA59.9
57Habib NasutionINA1:00.1
62Alex JanyFRA1:00.2

Heat Five

15Gary ChapmanAUS57.8Q
23Bill WoolseyUSA58.2Q
36Ronald RobertsGBR58.3Q
44Gyula DobayHUN58.5Q
57George ParkCAN58.8
62Dakula ArabaniPHI1:00.2
71Wan Shiu MingHKG1:00.7

Semi-Finals (29 November 1956 — 20:35)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One

1Jon HenricksAUS55.7QOR
2Dick HanleyUSA56.9Q
3Atsushi TaniJPN57.4Q
4Aldo EminenteFRA58.0Q
5Hiroshi SuzukiJPN58.0
6Vitaly SorokinURS58.2
7Paolo PucciITA58.8
8Carlo PedersoliITA59.0

Heat Two

1John DevittAUS56.4Q
2Gary ChapmanAUS56.9Q
3Reid PattersonUSA57.1Q
4Bill WoolseyUSA58.0Q
5Gyula DobayHUN58.1
6Manabu KogaJPN58.1
7Paul VoellGER58.6
8Ronald RobertsGBR58.9

Final (30 November 1956 — 19:55)

14Jon HenricksAUS55.4WR
25John DevittAUS55.8
33Gary ChapmanAUS56.7
42Reid PattersonUSA57.2
56Dick HanleyUSA57.6
68Bill WoolseyUSA57.6
77Atsushi TaniJPN58.0
81Aldo EminenteFRA58.1