| Event type

1,500 metres Freestyle, Men

Date5 – 7 December 1956
LocationOlympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants20 from 11 countries

The world record fell twice in 1956 before the Olympic Games began. Firstly George Breen broke the record at the US Olympic trials, then Murray Rose furthered lowered it at the Australian trials a few months later. Rose and Tsuyoshi Yamanaka posted the 2nd and 3rd fastest times in history in the first qualifying heat only to see Breen respond by taking 6.6 seconds off the world record in heat 3.

Not unexpectedly the final quickly turned into a three-way battle between Rose, Breen and Yamanaka. At halfway the three men were still together until Rose began to pull away from the other two and into a lead of more than five metres. Breen, unable to match his heroics from the heats, slipped further back but Yamanaka made a final effort over the last two lengths of the pool to pull back on the leader. As the increasingly anxious home crowd roared their support for the Australian, Rose mustered a sprint that kept him clear of the Japanese swimmer. Breen was 16 seconds slower than in his heat but was still able to win the bronze medal.

Rose returned to collect silver in this event at the Rome Games but, despite being in world record breaking form in 1964, he was not selected for Tokyo when acting commitments meant that he was not able to return to Australia for the trials.

1Murray RoseAUS18:04.1 (1 h1)17:58.9 (1)Gold
2Tsuyoshi YamanakaJPN18:04.3 (2 h1)18:00.3 (2)Silver
3George BreenUSA17:52.9 (1 h3)18:08.2 (3)Bronze
4Murray GarrettyAUS18:27.4 (1 h4)18:26.5 (4)
5Bill SlaterCAN18:51.6 (3 h1)18:38.1 (5)
6Jean BoiteuxFRA18:46.6 (2 h4)18:38.3 (6)
7Yukiyoshi AokiJPN18:36.0 (2 h2)18:38.3 (7)
8Gary WinramAUS18:35.7 (1 h2)19:06.2 (8)
9Seizaburo YagiJPN18:57.3 (3 h4)
10Sándor ZáborszkyHUN19:01.2 (2 h3)
11Dave RadcliffUSA19:09.6 (4 h4)
12Jacques CollignonFRA19:10.8 (3 h3)
13George OnekeaUSA19:13.8 (3 h2)
14Bana SailaniPHI19:16.8 (4 h3)
15Guy MontserretFRA19:17.4 (4 h1)
16Gennady AndrosovURS19:22.6 (5 h3)
17Hans-Joachim ReichGER19:28.6 (6 h3)
18György CsordásHUN19:44.2 (5 h1)
19Peter DuncanRSA19:58.5 (4 h2)
20Raúl MartínCUB19:59.9 (5 h2)
DNSUlpiano BabolPHI– (DNS h1)
DNSBilly SteuartRSA– (DNS h1)
DNSSylvio dos SantosBRA– (DNS h2)
DNSGilberto MartínezCOL– (DNS h2)
DNSTony BriscoeRSA– (DNS h3)
DNSArpad DomjanHUN– (DNS h4)
DNSMuhammad RamzanPAK– (DNS h4)
DNSPer-Olof ÖstrandSWE– (DNS h4)

Round One (5 December 1956 — 14:00-19:30)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One (14:00)

16Murray RoseAUS18:04.1QOR
24Tsuyoshi YamanakaJPN18:04.3Q
37Bill SlaterCAN18:51.6Q
45Guy MontserretFRA19:17.4
53György CsordásHUN19:44.21
DNS2Ulpiano BabolPHI
DNS1Billy SteuartRSA

Heat Two (14:40)

16Gary WinramAUS18:35.7Q
23Yukiyoshi AokiJPN18:36.0Q
35George OnekeaUSA19:13.8
42Peter DuncanRSA19:58.5
57Raúl MartínCUB19:59.92
DNS4Sylvio dos SantosBRA
DNS1Gilberto MartínezCOL

Heat Three (19:30)

14George BreenUSA17:52.9QWR
23Sándor ZáborszkyHUN19:01.2
32Jacques CollignonFRA19:10.8
47Bana SailaniPHI19:16.8
55Gennady AndrosovURS19:22.6
66Hans-Joachim ReichGER19:28.6
DNS1Tony BriscoeRSA

Heat Four (20:10)

14Murray GarrettyAUS18:27.4Q
25Jean BoiteuxFRA18:46.6Q
33Seizaburo YagiJPN18:57.3
42Dave RadcliffUSA19:09.6
DNS7Arpad DomjanHUN
DNS1Muhammad RamzanPAK
DNS6Per-Olof ÖstrandSWE

Final (7 December 1956 — 19:55)

15Murray RoseAUS17:58.9
23Tsuyoshi YamanakaJPN18:00.3
34George BreenUSA18:08.2
46Murray GarrettyAUS18:26.5
58Bill SlaterCAN18:38.1
61Jean BoiteuxFRA18:38.3
77Yukiyoshi AokiJPN18:38.3
82Gary WinramAUS19:06.2