| Event type

400 metres Freestyle, Men

Date23 September 1988
LocationSu-yeong-jang, Ol-lim-pik Gong-won, Seoul
Participants49 from 33 countries

The Olympic record was 3:50.91, set by West German Thomas Fahrner in winning the B final in Los Angeles. The standard in Seoul was so high that to qualify for the final, one had to better that record, the biggest casualty being 1986 World Champion and 1987 European runner-up, West German Rainer Henkel, who barely made the B final and elected not to contest that race. The high standard of qualifying set the stage for a dramatic final.

The current world record holder was Poland’s Artur Wojdat, who trained in the USA and had swum 3:48.38 earlier in 1988 at the US Nationals. In the final the early leader was Sweden’s Anders Holmertz followed by American Matt Cetlinski, the 1987 Pan Pacific champion. Cetlinski took the lead at 300 metres, followed by Wojdat and Holmertz, with East German Uwe Daßler in fourth, and Australian Duncan Armstrong, already the winner of the 200 free in Seoul, moving up slightly, but still in seventh. Cetlinski continued to lead at 350 but he was dying, and Wojdat and Daßler moved ahead on the final lap. Armstrong, who swam the final 100 in 55.02, finished very quickly and moved up to the silver medal, passing Wojdat. But he could not catch Daßler, who finished in 55.55 for gold, as Cetlinski dropped off the podium to fourth.

Daßler finished in 3:46.95 to break Wojdat’s world record. But Wojdat also bettered it in third, with 3:47.34, as did Armstrong in second with 3:47.15, and it took a world record time just to get on the podium. Wojdat called it “The Race of the Century,” which was echoed by Terry Stoddard, his Mission Viejo coach, who said “Yes, definitely. It was the greatest race in history.”

PosSwimmerNOCR1B FinalFinal
1Uwe DaßlerGDR3:49.90 (2 h7)3:46.95 (1)Gold
2Duncan ArmstrongAUS3:50.64 (3 h7)3:47.15 (2)Silver
3Artur WojdatPOL3:49.68 (1 h7)3:47.34 (3)Bronze
4Matt CetlinskiUSA3:50.82 (3 h6)3:48.09 (4)
5Mariusz PodkościelnyPOL3:49.51 (1 h5)3:48.59 (5)
6Stefan PfeifferFRG3:49.52 (2 h5)3:49.96 (6)
7Kevin BoydGBR3:50.01 (1 h6)3:50.16 (7)
8Anders HolmertzSWE3:50.06 (2 h6)3:51.04 (8)
9Jörg HoffmannGDR3:53.78 (5 h5)3:52.13 (1)
10Valter KalausHUN3:53.44 (4 h5)3:53.24 (2)
11Turlough O'HareCAN3:55.35 (5 h7)3:54.33 (3)
12Carlos ScanavinoURU3:54.86 (6 h6)3:54.36 (4)
13Ian BrownAUS3:51.09 (4 h6)3:54.63 (5)
14Dan JorgensenUSA3:52.64 (4 h7)3:55.34 (6)
15Salvador VassalloPUR3:55.30 (1 h4)3:55.39 (7)
16Zoltán SzilágyiHUN3:56.29 (7 h6)3:56.00 (8)
17Rainer HenkelFRG3:51.50 (3 h5)1
18Giorgio LambertiITA3:53.29 (5 h6)2
19Roberto GleriaITA3:56.33 (6 h7)
20Darjan PetričYUG3:56.94 (6 h5)
21Henrik JangvallSWE3:57.41 (2 h4)
22Daniel SerraESP3:57.46 (3 h4)
23Cristiano MichelenaBRA3:57.79 (7 h5)
24Tony DayGBR3:57.91 (4 h4)
25Alberto BottiniSUI3:57.92 (5 h4)
26Gary VandermeulenCAN3:57.99 (8 h5)
27Aleksandr BazhanovURS3:58.74 (7 h7)
28Igor MajcenYUG3:58.90 (1 h3)
29Jean-Marie ArnouldBEL3:59.91 (8 h7)
30Franck IaconoFRA4:00.04 (8 h6)
31Claus ChristensenDEN4:00.46 (6 h4)
32Yoshiyuki MizumotoJPN4:02.02 (7 h4)
33David CastroBRA4:02.48 (2 h3)
34Ignacio EscamillaMEX4:03.16 (3 h3)
35Carlos RomoMEX4:04.02 (4 h3)
36Jeffrey OngMAS4:04.57 (5 h3)
37Ragnar GuðmundssonISL4:05.12 (6 h3)
38Shigeo OgataJPN4:05.68 (8 h4)
39Yang GamKOR4:05.81 (7 h3)
40Wu Ming-HsunTPE4:06.66 (1 h2)
41Jonathan SakovichGUM4:06.89 (2 h2)
42Gwon Sun-GeunKOR4:08.02 (8 h3)
43Richard BeraINA4:08.70 (3 h2)
44Desmond KohSGP4:15.54 (4 h2)
45Arthur LiHKG4:18.50 (5 h2)
46Julian BollingSRI4:18.88 (6 h2)
47Bassam Al-AnsariUAE4:39.36 (1 h1)
48Émile LahoudLBN4:47.09 (2 h1)
49Mohamed Bin AbidUAE4:47.28 (3 h1)

Round One (23 September 1988 — 10:00)

Fastest eight advanced to the final. Places 9-16 advanced to the B Final.

Heat One

15Bassam Al-AnsariUAE4:39.36
23Émile LahoudLBN4:47.09
34Mohamed Bin AbidUAE4:47.28

Heat Two

12Wu Ming-HsunTPE4:06.66
25Jonathan SakovichGUM4:06.89
34Richard BeraINA4:08.70
47Desmond KohSGP4:15.54
53Arthur LiHKG4:18.50
66Julian BollingSRI4:18.88

Heat Three

14Igor MajcenYUG3:58.90
25David CastroBRA4:02.48
36Ignacio EscamillaMEX4:03.16
43Carlos RomoMEX4:04.02
52Jeffrey OngMAS4:04.57
67Ragnar GuðmundssonISL4:05.12
71Yang GamKOR4:05.81
88Gwon Sun-GeunKOR4:08.02

Heat Four

15Salvador VassalloPUR3:55.30q
23Henrik JangvallSWE3:57.41
34Daniel SerraESP3:57.46
46Tony DayGBR3:57.91
58Alberto BottiniSUI3:57.92
62Claus ChristensenDEN4:00.46
71Yoshiyuki MizumotoJPN4:02.02
87Shigeo OgataJPN4:05.68

Heat Five

13Mariusz PodkościelnyPOL3:49.51QOR
25Stefan PfeifferFRG3:49.52Q
34Rainer HenkelFRG3:51.50q
42Valter KalausHUN3:53.44q
56Jörg HoffmannGDR3:53.78q
61Darjan PetričYUG3:56.94
78Cristiano MichelenaBRA3:57.79
87Gary VandermeulenCAN3:57.99

Heat Six

16Kevin BoydGBR3:50.01Q
25Anders HolmertzSWE3:50.06Q
34Matt CetlinskiUSA3:50.82Q
41Ian BrownAUS3:51.09q
53Giorgio LambertiITA3:53.29q
68Carlos ScanavinoURU3:54.86q
72Zoltán SzilágyiHUN3:56.29
87Franck IaconoFRA4:00.04

Heat Seven

14Artur WojdatPOL3:49.68Q
25Uwe DaßlerGDR3:49.90Q
36Duncan ArmstrongAUS3:50.64Q
42Dan JorgensenUSA3:52.64q
57Turlough O'HareCAN3:55.35
62Roberto GleriaITA3:56.33
78Aleksandr BazhanovURS3:58.74
81Jean-Marie ArnouldBEL3:59.91

B Final (23 September 1988 — 20:00)

16Jörg HoffmannGDR3:52.13
23Valter KalausHUN3:53.24
31Turlough O'HareCAN3:54.33
42Carlos ScanavinoURU3:54.36
54Ian BrownAUS3:54.63
65Dan JorgensenUSA3:55.34
77Salvador VassalloPUR3:55.39
88Zoltán SzilágyiHUN3:56.00

Final (23 September 1988 — 20:00)

16Uwe DaßlerGDR3:46.95WR
21Duncan ArmstrongAUS3:47.15
33Artur WojdatPOL3:47.34
48Matt CetlinskiUSA3:48.09
54Mariusz PodkościelnyPOL3:48.59
65Stefan PfeifferFRG3:49.96
72Kevin BoydGBR3:50.16
87Anders HolmertzSWE3:51.04