| Event type

1,500 metres Freestyle, Men

Date24 – 25 September 1988
LocationSu-yeong-jang, Ol-lim-pik Gong-won, Seoul
Participants35 from 22 countries

Vladimir Salnikov was unbeaten in this race between 1977 and early 1986. He had broken the 15-minute barrier at the 1980 Olympics, and was still the only swimmer under the barrier, having bettered it four times, with three world records. But by 1988 he was far from the swimmer he had once been. He had placed fourth in this event at the 1986 Worlds, won by West Germany’s Rainer Henkel, and had not qualified for the final of the 1987 Europeans. The Soviet swim coaches did not choose him for the 1988 Olympic team, but the Soviet Minister of Sport intervened and Salnikov was placed on the team, and he pushed his training in an attempt to regain his old form.

In the final Salnikov swam behind American Matt Cetlinski for the first 600 metres, pulling slightly ahead at 700. West German Stefan Pfeiffer moved into second at 950 metres, as Salnikov continued to increase his lead, and Cetlinski dropped back to third. Just before 1,400 m the 400 gold medalist, Uwe Daßler of the GDR, caught Cetlinski. Salnikov continued to power ahead until the final 100, when Pfeiffer closed slightly. But it was not enough as Salnikov won his second gold medal in the event, with Pfeiffer second, and Daßler third. For Cetlinski, it was further disappointment as he placed fourth, as he had in the 400.

That night in the Olympic Village, Salnikov went to the cafeteria for a snack. When he entered all the athletes and coaches, from all nations and all sports, spontaneously stood and cheered the great Russian swimmer.

1Vladimir SalnikovURS15:07.83 (1 h4)15:00.40 (1)Gold
2Stefan PfeifferFRG15:07.85 (1 h3)15:02.69 (2)Silver
3Uwe DaßlerGDR15:08.91 (2 h4)15:06.15 (3)Bronze
4Matt CetlinskiUSA15:07.41 (1 h5)15:06.42 (4)
5Mariusz PodkościelnyPOL15:11.19 (3 h4)15:14.76 (5)
6Rainer HenkelFRG15:14.64 (2 h5)15:18.19 (6)
7Kevin BoydGBR15:17.56 (2 h3)15:21.16 (7)
8Darjan PetričYUG15:16.99 (3 h5)15:37.12 (8)
9Jörg HoffmannGDR15:14.13 (4 h4)1
10Luca PellegriniITA15:18.80 (4 h5)
11Michael McKenzieAUS15:19.36 (5 h4)
12Christophe MarchandFRA15:22.19 (3 h3)
13Franck IaconoFRA15:22.66 (6 h4)
14Jason PlummerAUS15:22.85 (5 h5)
15Valter KalausHUN15:23.01 (1 h2)
16Chris ChalmersCAN15:23.22 (4 h3)
17Stefan PerssonSWE15:24.33 (6 h5)
18Igor MajcenYUG15:29.16 (7 h4)
19Harry TaylorCAN15:30.31 (5 h3)
20Stefano BattistelliITA15:36.54 (6 h3)
21Artur WojdatPOL15:37.52 (8 h4)
22Tony DayGBR15:38.75 (7 h5)
23Lars JorgensenUSA15:39.51 (7 h3)
24Wang DaliCHN15:45.96 (8 h5)
25Masashi KatoJPN15:47.35 (2 h2)
26Cristiano MichelenaBRA15:50.50 (3 h2)
27Yoshiyuki MizumotoJPN15:52.06 (4 h2)
28Norbert ÁghHUN15:52.80 (5 h2)
29Jeffrey OngMAS15:53.67 (6 h2)
30Artur CostaPOR15:56.13 (7 h2)
31Ragnar GuðmundssonISL15:57.54 (8 h2)
32David CastroBRA15:57.89 (8 h3)
33Wu Ming-HsunTPE15:59.74 (1 h1)
34Yang GamKOR16:21.10 (2 h1)
35Jonathan SakovichGUM16:26.77 (3 h1)

Round One (24 September 1988 — 10:00)

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

Heat One

14Wu Ming-HsunTPE15:59.74
25Yang GamKOR16:21.10
33Jonathan SakovichGUM16:26.77

Heat Two

14Valter KalausHUN15:23.01
25Masashi KatoJPN15:47.35
31Cristiano MichelenaBRA15:50.50
43Yoshiyuki MizumotoJPN15:52.06
52Norbert ÁghHUN15:52.80
66Jeffrey OngMAS15:53.67
77Artur CostaPOR15:56.13
88Ragnar GuðmundssonISL15:57.54

Heat Three

14Stefan PfeifferFRG15:07.85Q
22Kevin BoydGBR15:17.56
31Christophe MarchandFRA15:22.19
46Chris ChalmersCAN15:23.22
53Harry TaylorCAN15:30.31
67Stefano BattistelliITA15:36.54
75Lars JorgensenUSA15:39.51
88David CastroBRA15:57.89

Heat Four

16Vladimir SalnikovURS15:07.83Q
24Uwe DaßlerGDR15:08.91Q
32Mariusz PodkościelnyPOL15:11.19Q
43Jörg HoffmannGDR15:14.13Q
55Michael McKenzieAUS15:19.36
67Franck IaconoFRA15:22.66
78Igor MajcenYUG15:29.16
81Artur WojdatPOL15:37.52

Heat Five

15Matt CetlinskiUSA15:07.41Q
24Rainer HenkelFRG15:14.64Q
32Darjan PetričYUG15:16.99Q
41Luca PellegriniITA15:18.80
53Jason PlummerAUS15:22.85
66Stefan PerssonSWE15:24.33
77Tony DayGBR15:38.75
88Wang DaliCHN15:45.96

Final (25 September 1988 — 20:00)

15Vladimir SalnikovURS15:00.40
23Stefan PfeifferFRG15:02.69
36Uwe DaßlerGDR15:06.15
44Matt CetlinskiUSA15:06.42
52Mariusz PodkościelnyPOL15:14.76
67Rainer HenkelFRG15:18.19
78Kevin BoydGBR15:21.16
81Darjan PetričYUG15:37.12