| Event type

800 metres Freestyle, Women

Date23 – 24 September 1988
LocationSu-yeong-jang, Ol-lim-pik Gong-won, Seoul
Participants27 from 19 countries

Janet Evans had already won two individual golds in Seoul, in the 400 freestyle and 400 IM. She came into the Olympics as the world record holder in this event, having posted 8:17.12 in March 1988 in Orlando, Florida. Her biggest challengers were expected to be the two East Germans, Astrid Strauß, 1986 World Champion and runner-up at the 1987 Europeans to her teammate Anke Möhring, and Australian Julie M. McDonald, who had easily defeated Evans at the 1987 Pan Pacs.

In the final Evans took the lead from the start and by 400 metres had almost three seconds on Strauß, nearly four seconds on Möhring, and almost five on McDonald. The others all negatively-split their races and closed in the second half, but Evans even-split her race and the outcome was never in doubt, as Evans won in 8:20:20. Strauß hung on for second, while McDonald passed Möhring to win the bronze.

Evans would return in 1992 and defend her gold medal in this event, adding a silver in the 400 free. At the 1989 Pan Pacific meet, she swam 8:16.22 for a world record which would last until Becky Adlington’s Olympic gold medal swim of 8:14.10 at the 2008 Olympics. It was the second longest-lasting world record ever, trailing only Dutchwoman Willy den Ouden’s 100 metre freestyle mark of 1:04.6, which lasted from February 1936 until February 1956.

Evans would also compete at the 1996 Olympics but she was by then past her prime and placed sixth in the 800, failing to make the final of the 400. She then retired, or so it seemed, and married in 2004, later having two children. But in 2010 she started competing again, at first in masters’ events, but she then set a goal to try for another Olympic team. She qualified for the US Olympic Trials in 2012, but was unable to make the team in either the 400 or 800.

1Janet EvansUSA8:28.13 (2 h3)8:20.20 (1)Gold
2Astrid StraußGDR8:28.07 (1 h3)8:22.09 (2)Silver
3Julie M. McDonaldAUS8:29.68 (1 h4)8:22.93 (3)Bronze
4Anke MöhringGDR8:30.95 (2 h4)8:23.09 (4)
5Tami BruceUSA8:31.57 (1 h2)8:30.86 (5)
6Janelle ElfordAUS8:32.14 (2 h2)8:30.94 (6)
7Isabelle ArnouldBEL8:34.56 (3 h4)8:37.47 (7)
8Antoaneta StrumenlievaBUL8:35.40 (3 h2)8:41.05 (8)
9Debby WurzburgerCAN8:36.24 (3 h3)
10Irene DalbyNOR8:38.33 (4 h4)
11Tomomi HosodaJPN8:39.55 (5 h4)
12Manuela MelchiorriITA8:40.63 (4 h2)
13Karyn FaureFRA8:41.64 (5 h2)
14Stephanie OrtwigFRG8:41.95 (4 h3)
15Nataliya TrefilovaURS8:43.19 (6 h4)
16Karen MellorGBR8:44.64 (5 h3)
17Alexandra RussFRG8:49.31 (6 h2)
18Pernille JensenDEN8:50.82 (7 h4)
19Nurul Huda AbdullahMAS8:50.84 (6 h3)
20Christelle JanssensBEL8:51.22 (7 h3)
21Patrícia AmorimBRA8:51.95 (1 h1)
22Eva MortensenDEN8:53.67 (7 h2)
23Judit CsabaiHUN8:56.37 (8 h3)
24Cécile PrunierFRA8:57.22 (8 h2)
25Tracey AtkinGBR9:00.04 (2 h1)
26Yan MingCHN9:00.81 (8 h4)
27Rita GarayPUR9:04.62 (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

15Patrícia AmorimBRA8:51.95
24Tracey AtkinGBR9:00.04
33Rita GarayPUR9:04.62

Heat Two

15Tami BruceUSA8:31.57Q
24Janelle ElfordAUS8:32.14Q
33Antoaneta StrumenlievaBUL8:35.40Q
42Manuela MelchiorriITA8:40.63
57Karyn FaureFRA8:41.64
61Alexandra RussFRG8:49.31
78Eva MortensenDEN8:53.67
86Cécile PrunierFRA8:57.22

Heat Three

15Astrid StraußGDR8:28.07Q
24Janet EvansUSA8:28.13Q
36Debby WurzburgerCAN8:36.24
42Stephanie OrtwigFRG8:41.95
57Karen MellorGBR8:44.64
68Nurul Huda AbdullahMAS8:50.84
71Christelle JanssensBEL8:51.22
83Judit CsabaiHUN8:56.37

Heat Four

14Julie M. McDonaldAUS8:29.68Q
25Anke MöhringGDR8:30.95Q
36Isabelle ArnouldBEL8:34.56Q
42Irene DalbyNOR8:38.33
57Tomomi HosodaJPN8:39.55
63Nataliya TrefilovaURS8:43.19
78Pernille JensenDEN8:50.82
81Yan MingCHN9:00.81

Final (24 September 1988 — 20:00)

15Janet EvansUSA8:20.20OR
24Astrid StraußGDR8:22.09
33Julie M. McDonaldAUS8:22.93
46Anke MöhringGDR8:23.09
52Tami BruceUSA8:30.86
67Janelle ElfordAUS8:30.94
71Isabelle ArnouldBEL8:37.47
88Antoaneta StrumenlievaBUL8:41.05