| Event type

50 metres Freestyle, Women

Date25 September 1988
LocationSu-yeong-jang, Ol-lim-pik Gong-won, Seoul
Participants50 from 33 countries

This was the first time that women swam the 50 free at the Olympics, although it had been on the program at the 1986 World Championships. The favorites were China’s Yang Wenyi, who had set the world record of 24.98 earlier in 1988, and Romania’s Tamara Costache, the 1986 World Champion and 1987 European Champion, and a three-time world record setter. To date the pool at the Seoul Olympics had been the personal property of East German Kristin Otto, who had already won five gold medals. She had been second in the 50 free at 86 Worlds, but was considered a longshot in this event.

There were two false starts in the final and some thought that this bothered Yang. She still held the lead with Otto for much of the race, but Otto just touched her out in 25.49, winning her very surprising sixth gold medal in Seoul. Costache was a non-factor, placing sixth. The bronze medals were shared by 15-year-old East German Katrin Meißner and the relatively ancient 27-year-old American Jill Sterkel, who both finished in 25.71. Sterkel had last won an Olympic medal 12 years ago, in Montréal, a gold in the freestyle relay. She had only made the US team when Angel Myers was disqualified after the US Olympic Trials for a positive drug test. The fifth-place finisher was another American, Leigh Ann Fetter, a freshman at the University of Texas, where her assistant coach was Sterkel.

In 1994 it was revealed that Otto had been a part of the long-time East German doping conspiracy as she had been given drugs by her coaches throughout her career. Otto denied any knowledge of this however, and stated that her performances were due not to the drugs, but to her hard work.

PosSwimmerNOCR1B FinalFinal
1Kristin OttoGDR25.85 (1 h6)25.49 (1)Gold
2Yang WenyiCHN25.67 (1 h7)25.64 (2)Silver
=3Katrin MeißnerGDR25.77 (2 h7)25.71 (=3)Bronze
=3Jill SterkelUSA26.02 (3 h7)25.71 (=3)Bronze
5Leigh Ann FetterUSA25.91 (1 h5)25.78 (5)
6Tamara CostacheROU26.06 (3 h6)25.80 (6)
7Catherine PlewinskiFRA26.01 (2 h6)25.90 (7)
8Karen Van WirdumAUS26.12 (4 h7)26.01 (8)
9Marion AizporsFRG26.20 (5 h7)26.17 (1)
10Christiane PielkeFRG26.33 (3 h5)26.22 (2)
11Marie-Thérèse ArmenteroSUI26.32 (2 h5)26.34 (3)
=12Kristin TophamCAN26.50 (5 h6)26.45 (=4)
=12Ayako NakanoJPN26.44 (4 h6)26.45 (=4)
14Inna AbramovaURS26.27 (6 h7)26.48 (6)
15Karin BrienesseNED26.54 (4 h5)26.66 (7)
16Diane van der PlaatsNED26.49 (1 h4)26.80 (8)
=17Adriana PereiraBRA26.56 (2 h4)
=17Luminița DobrescuROU26.56 (5 h5)
19Andrea NugentCAN26.60 (6 h6)
=20Gitta JensenDEN26.61 (=6 h5)
=20Kaori SasakiJPN26.61 (=6 h5)
22Xia FujieCHN26.66 (7 h6)
23Helena ÅbergSWE26.67 (7 h7)
24Karin FuruhedSWE26.85 (8 h6)
25Alison SheppardGBR27.14 (8 h7)
26María RiveraMEX27.16 (3 h4)
27Annabelle CrippsGBR27.17 (4 h4)
28Karen DieffenthalerTTO27.27 (5 h4)
29Senda GharbiTUN27.34 (8 h5)
30Akiko ThomsonPHI27.43 (6 h4)
31Mônica RezendeBRA27.44 (1 h3)
32Patricia KohlmannMEX27.45 (7 h4)
33Carolina MauriCRC27.96 (1 h2)
34Han Yeong-HuiKOR28.02 (2 h3)
35Celeste HungHKG28.15 (3 h3)
36Park Ju-RiKOR28.20 (4 h3)
37Bryndís ÓlafsdóttirISL28.38 (2 h2)
38Ana FortínHON28.46 (5 h3)
39Cina MunchFIJ28.55 (3 h2)
40Catherine FogartyZIM28.66 (4 h2)
41Wang ChiTPE28.73 (6 h3)
42Sabrina LumTPE28.82 (5 h2)
43Veronica CummingsGUM28.94 (6 h2)
44Angela BirchFIJ29.01 (7 h2)
45Tsang Wing SzeHKG29.14 (7 h3)
46Katerine MorenoBOL29.42 (8 h2)
47Elsa FreireANG29.54 (8 h4)
48Carolina AraujoMOZ29.64 (1 h1)
49Ana MartinsANG29.74 (8 h3)
50Nancy KhalafLBN30.77 (2 h1)

Round One (25 September 1988 — 10:00)

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

Heat One

15Carolina AraujoMOZ29.64OR
24Nancy KhalafLBN30.77

Heat Two

13Carolina MauriCRC27.96OR
25Bryndís ÓlafsdóttirISL28.38
34Cina MunchFIJ28.55
46Catherine FogartyZIM28.66
51Sabrina LumTPE28.82
62Veronica CummingsGUM28.94
77Angela BirchFIJ29.01
88Katerine MorenoBOL29.42

Heat Three

13Mônica RezendeBRA27.44OR
21Han Yeong-HuiKOR28.02
34Celeste HungHKG28.15
46Park Ju-RiKOR28.20
55Ana FortínHON28.46
68Wang ChiTPE28.73
77Tsang Wing SzeHKG29.14
82Ana MartinsANG29.74

Heat Four

16Diane van der PlaatsNED26.49QBOR
25Adriana PereiraBRA26.56
34María RiveraMEX27.16
42Annabelle CrippsGBR27.17
51Karen DieffenthalerTTO27.27
68Akiko ThomsonPHI27.43
73Patricia KohlmannMEX27.45
87Elsa FreireANG29.54

Heat Five

14Leigh Ann FetterUSA25.91QOR
23Marie-Thérèse ArmenteroSUI26.32q
35Christiane PielkeFRG26.33q
42Karin BrienesseNED26.54q
56Luminița DobrescuROU26.56
=61Gitta JensenDEN26.61
=68Kaori SasakiJPN26.61
87Senda GharbiTUN27.34

Heat Six

13Kristin OttoGDR25.85QOR
22Catherine PlewinskiFRA26.01Q
34Tamara CostacheROU26.06Q
48Ayako NakanoJPN26.44q
57Kristin TophamCAN26.50q
66Andrea NugentCAN26.60
75Xia FujieCHN26.66
81Karin FuruhedSWE26.85

Heat Seven

14Yang WenyiCHN25.67QOR
23Katrin MeißnerGDR25.77Q
35Jill SterkelUSA26.02Q
42Karen Van WirdumAUS26.12Q
57Marion AizporsFRG26.20q
66Inna AbramovaURS26.27q
78Helena ÅbergSWE26.67
81Alison SheppardGBR27.14

B Final (25 September 1988 — 20:00)

14Marion AizporsFRG26.17
26Christiane PielkeFRG26.22
33Marie-Thérèse ArmenteroSUI26.34
=41Kristin TophamCAN26.45
=42Ayako NakanoJPN26.45
65Inna AbramovaURS26.48
78Karin BrienesseNED26.66
87Diane van der PlaatsNED26.80

Final (25 September 1988 — 20:00)

13Kristin OttoGDR25.49OR
24Yang WenyiCHN25.64
=35Katrin MeißnerGDR25.71
=37Jill SterkelUSA25.71
56Leigh Ann FetterUSA25.78
61Tamara CostacheROU25.80
72Catherine PlewinskiFRA25.90
88Karen Van WirdumAUS26.01