| Event type

100 metres Backstroke, Women

Date3 – 5 December 1956
LocationOlympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Participants23 from 14 countries

The withdrawal of the strong Netherlands swimming team from the Melbourne Games opened up the event to domination by a rampaging horde of teenagers. The oldest of the eight finalists, Helga Schmidt of Germany, would not turn 20 until February 1957.

In what was considered an open contest the British pair of Judith Grinham and Margaret Edwards clearly produced the best times in the heats but the final proved to be extremely close with all the finalists in contention until the final strokes of the race. To poolside observers Grinham, Carin Cone of the USA and Edwards all seemed to touch the wall at the same time with the official timing system crediting Grinham and Cone with a dead heat in world record time. Since a tie was not possible according to the rules, the decision on the gold medal was made by the official jury and, after 15 minutes of deliberation, it was decided by majority decision that Grinham was the Olympic champion.

Although the oldest of the three medal winners was only 17 at the time, this was the only Olympic Games that any of them attended. Grinham retired on her 20th birthday.

1Judith GrinhamGBR1:13.1 (1 h1)1:12.9 (1)Gold
2Carin ConeUSA1:13.9 (1 h2)1:12.9 (2)Silver
3Margaret EdwardsGBR1:13.0 (1 h3)1:13.1 (3)Bronze
4Helga SchmidtGER1:14.8 (3 h3)1:13.4 (4)
5Maureen MurphyUSA1:14.8 (4 h3)1:14.1 (5)
6Julie HoyleGBR1:15.0 (3 h2)1:14.3 (6)
7Sara BarberCAN1:14.3 (2 h3)1:14.3 (7)
8Gerganiya BeckittAUS1:14.8 (2 h2)1:14.7 (8)
9Éva PajorHUN1:15.3 (4 h2)
=10Jean StewartNZL1:15.4 (5 h2)
=10Moira AbernethyRSA1:15.4 (6 h2)
12Maria BothROU1:15.8 (2 h1)
13Patricia HuntingfordAUS1:16.0 (5 h3)
14Lyudmila KlipovaURS1:16.1 (3 h1)
=15Mary Anne MarchinoUSA1:16.2 (4 h1)
=15Elżbieta GellnerPOL1:16.2 (5 h1)
17Pam SingletonAUS1:17.0 (6 h1)
=18Lenora FisherCAN1:17.5 (7 h1)
=18Pip GouldNZL1:17.5 (6 h3)
20Judit TemesHUN1:17.6 (7 h3)
21Ginette SendralFRA1:19.1 (8 h1)
22Jocelyn von GiesePHI1:20.0 (7 h2)
23Martha GultomINA1:21.7 (8 h3)

Round One (3 December 1956 — 16:00)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One

13Judith GrinhamGBR1:13.1QOR
28Maria BothROU1:15.8
36Lyudmila KlipovaURS1:16.1
45Mary Anne MarchinoUSA1:16.2
54Elżbieta GellnerPOL1:16.2
61Pam SingletonAUS1:17.0
72Lenora FisherCAN1:17.5
87Ginette SendralFRA1:19.1

Heat Two

13Carin ConeUSA1:13.9Q
26Gerganiya BeckittAUS1:14.8Q
37Julie HoyleGBR1:15.0Q
45Éva PajorHUN1:15.3
54Jean StewartNZL1:15.4
61Moira AbernethyRSA1:15.4
72Jocelyn von GiesePHI1:20.0

Heat Three

16Margaret EdwardsGBR1:13.0QOR
21Sara BarberCAN1:14.3Q
33Helga SchmidtGER1:14.8Q
48Maureen MurphyUSA1:14.8Q
54Patricia HuntingfordAUS1:16.0
65Pip GouldNZL1:17.5
72Judit TemesHUN1:17.6
87Martha GultomINA1:21.7

Final (5 December 1956 — 20:50)

15Judith GrinhamGBR1:12.9WR
23Carin ConeUSA1:12.9=WR
34Margaret EdwardsGBR1:13.1
41Helga SchmidtGER1:13.4
52Maureen MurphyUSA1:14.1
68Julie HoyleGBR1:14.3
76Sara BarberCAN1:14.3
87Gerganiya BeckittAUS1:14.7