| Event type

400 metres Individual Medley, Women

Date20 July 1996
LocationGeorgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Participants31 from 24 countries

In the two years since the last World Championship Dai Guohong, the world champion, had drifted away from top level competition and so the focus of the world shifted onto the attempt of Krisztina Egerszegi to defend her Olympic title and the efforts of American Allison Wagner to deny the Hungarian a piece of Olympic history.

Another contender was Michelle Smith of Ireland, who had placed second to Egerszegi at the 1995 European Championships, in addition to having won two gold medals at the meeting. History was not on Smith’s side as no Irish swimmer had ever won a race at the Olympic Games - let alone qualify for a final. Smith ended that streak by winning heat three and progressing as third fastest qualifier. The Irishwoman then went to win the final with comparative ease and finished three seconds ahead of Wagner with Egerszegi a close third.

Not only was Smith’s win the first by a Irish swimmer it was also the first time an Irish female Olympian had won any kind of medal in the history of the Games. Still there were many critics who saw her development from also-ran to world beater with a degree of suspicion. Smith had competed at two previous Olympics without ever getting past the heat stages and had only began achieving success after meeting Erik de Bruin, a Dutch discus thrower who was serving a ban for a doping violation, and her future husband.

Her supporters would point to the fact that de Bruin had revolutionized her training regime but there were always whispers that her performances were only achieved due to illegal methods. Smith won two more European titles in 1997, before her career came to a sudden halt in January 1998. In an out-of-competition drug test, she handed in a urine sample that had enough whiskey in it to kill a normal human being. This was considered enough evidence to convict her of tampering with the sample and she was banned for four years. After the ban ended she did not return to competition but instead qualified as a lawyer.

PosSwimmerNOCR1B FinalFinal
1Michelle SmithIRL4:43.79 (1 h3)4:39.18 (1)Gold
2Allison WagnerUSA4:44.06 (3 h4)4:42.03 (2)Silver
3Krisztina EgerszegiHUN4:43.09 (1 h4)4:42.53 (3)Bronze
4Sabine HerbstGER4:45.36 (1 h2)4:43.78 (4)
5Emma JohnsonAUS4:43.45 (2 h4)4:44.02 (5)
6Beatrice CoadăROU4:44.66 (4 h4)4:44.91 (6)
7Lourdes BecerraESP4:45.54 (2 h2)4:45.17 (7)
8Whitney MetzlerUSA4:44.74 (2 h3)4:46.20 (8)
9Joanne MalarCAN4:47.85 (3 h2)4:46.34 (1)
10Hana ČernáCZE4:49.43 (6 h4)4:46.78 (2)
11Nancy SweetnamCAN4:48.56 (5 h4)4:47.55 (3)
12Fumie KurotoriJPN4:48.51 (3 h3)4:47.98 (4)
13Hideko HiranakaJPN4:49.32 (4 h3)4:48.72 (5)
14Elli OvertonAUS4:49.82 (4 h2)4:50.73 (6)
15Yseult GervyBEL4:53.11 (1 h1)4:52.89 (7)
16Pavla ChrástováCZE4:51.35 (5 h3)4:56.23 (8)
17Chen YanCHN4:53.87 (6 h3)
18Wu YanyanCHN4:54.07 (5 h2)
19Sarah HardcastleGBR4:54.64 (7 h4)
20Britta VestergaardDEN4:55.03 (7 h3)
21Cathleen RundGER4:55.30 (8 h3)
22Carolyn AdelSUR4:55.48 (2 h1)
23Mirjana BoševskaMKD4:55.57 (3 h1)
24Anna WilsonNZL4:55.72 (6 h2)
25Katia SarakatsaniGRE4:56.32 (4 h1)
26Darya ShmelyovaRUS4:57.06 (8 h4)
27Praphalsai MinpraphalTHA4:58.33 (5 h1)
28Lee Ji-HyeonKOR4:59.52 (6 h1)
29Hsieh Shu-TzuTPE5:01.70 (7 h1)
30Martina NemecAUT5:02.52 (7 h2)
31Nadège ClitonFRA5:06.46 (8 h2)

Round One (20 July 1996)

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

Heat One (11:00)

14Yseult GervyBEL4:53.110.79q
27Carolyn AdelSUR4:55.480.80
35Mirjana BoševskaMKD4:55.570.79
41Katia SarakatsaniGRE4:56.320.83
53Praphalsai MinpraphalTHA4:58.330.76
62Lee Ji-HyeonKOR4:59.520.88
76Hsieh Shu-TzuTPE5:01.700.89

Heat Two (11:10)

13Sabine HerbstGER4:45.360.76Q
27Lourdes BecerraESP4:45.540.78Q
35Joanne MalarCAN4:47.850.91q
46Elli OvertonAUS4:49.820.82q
54Wu YanyanCHN4:54.070.92
62Anna WilsonNZL4:55.720.83
78Martina NemecAUT5:02.520.74
81Nadège ClitonFRA5:06.460.82

Heat Three (11:20)

15Michelle SmithIRL4:43.790.87Q
22Whitney MetzlerUSA4:44.740.87Q
33Fumie KurotoriJPN4:48.510.78q
47Hideko HiranakaJPN4:49.320.79q
51Pavla ChrástováCZE4:51.350.97q
64Chen YanCHN4:53.870.87
78Britta VestergaardDEN4:55.030.93
86Cathleen RundGER4:55.300.93

Heat Four (11:30)

14Krisztina EgerszegiHUN4:43.090.79Q
23Emma JohnsonAUS4:43.450.93Q
35Allison WagnerUSA4:44.060.75Q
41Beatrice CoadăROU4:44.660.86Q
57Nancy SweetnamCAN4:48.560.83q
62Hana ČernáCZE4:49.430.83q
78Sarah HardcastleGBR4:54.640.81
86Darya ShmelyovaRUS4:57.060.85

B Final (20 July 1996)

14Joanne MalarCAN4:46.340.87
22Hana ČernáCZE4:46.780.87
33Nancy SweetnamCAN4:47.550.81
45Fumie KurotoriJPN4:47.980.78
56Hideko HiranakaJPN4:48.720.82
67Elli OvertonAUS4:50.730.84
78Yseult GervyBEL4:52.890.78
81Pavla ChrástováCZE4:56.230.96

Final (20 July 1996)

13Michelle SmithIRL4:39.180.82
26Allison WagnerUSA4:42.030.74
34Krisztina EgerszegiHUN4:42.530.83
41Sabine HerbstGER4:43.780.78
55Emma JohnsonAUS4:44.020.95
62Beatrice CoadăROU4:44.910.85
78Lourdes BecerraESP4:45.170.88
87Whitney MetzlerUSA4:46.200.89