Swimming at the 1932 Summer Olympics – Women's 400 metre freestyle

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Swimming at the
1932 Summer Olympics
Swimming pictogram.svg
100 m men   women
400 m men   women
1500 m men
100 m men   women
200 m men   women
Freestyle relay
4×100 m   women
4×200 m men  

The women's 400 metre freestyle was a swimming event held as part of the swimming at the 1932 Summer Olympics programme. It was the third appearance of the event, which was established in 1924 after 1920 a 300 metre event was held. The competition was held on Thursday August 11, 1932 and on Saturday August 13, 1932.

Fourteen swimmers from nine nations competed.


Gold Silver Bronze
 Helene Madison
United States (USA)
 Lenore Kight
United States (USA)
 Jenny Maakal
South Africa (RSA)


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1932 Summer Olympics.

World Record 5:31.0 United States Helene Madison Seattle (USA) February 3, 1931
Olympic Record 5:42.8 United States Martha Norelius Amsterdam (NED) August 6, 1928

In the third heat Lenore Kight set a new Olympic record with 5:40.9 minutes. Helene Madison set a new world record in the final with 5:28.5 minutes.



Thursday August 11, 1932: The fastest two in each heat and the fastest third-placed from across the heats advanced to the final.

Heat 1

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Joyce Cooper (GBR) 5:56.7 QQ
2  Norene Forbes (USA) 5:57.8 QQ
3  Yvonne Godard (FRA) 5:57.8 qq
4  Irene Pirie (CAN) 6:22.2

Heat 2

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Helene Madison (USA) 5:44.5 QQ
2  Marie Braun (NED) 5:50.5 QQ
3  Betty Edwards (CAN) 6:27.2

Heat 3

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Lenore Kight (USA) 5:40.9 QQ OR
2  Puck Oversloot (NED) 5:50.3 QQ
3  Frances Bult (AUS) 6:03.0

Heat 4

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Jenny Maakal (RSA) 5:53.9 QQ
2  Lilli Andersen (DEN) 6:05.1 QQ
3  Hatsuko Morioka (JPN) 6:07.4
4  Ruth Kerr (CAN) 6:25.7


Friday August 12, 1932: The fastest three in each semi-final advanced to the final. Marie Braun was not able to compete in the semi-finals. She had to stay in hospital due to blood poisoning after an infection officially caused by a mosquito bite.

Semifinal 1

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Helene Madison (USA) 5:48.7 QQ
2  Jenny Maakal (RSA) 6:00.6 QQ
3  Norene Forbes (USA) 6:22.1 QQ
 Puck Oversloot (NED) DNS

Semifinal 2

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Lenore Kight (USA) 5:50.8 QQ
2  Yvonne Godard (FRA) 6:00.1 QQ
3  Joyce Cooper (GBR) 6:00.4 QQ
4  Lilli Andersen (DEN) 6:05.5
 Marie Braun (NED) DNS


Saturday August 13, 1932:

Place Swimmer Time
1  Helene Madison (USA) 5:28.5 WR
2  Lenore Kight (USA) 5:28.6
3  Jenny Maakal (RSA) 5:47.3
4  Joyce Cooper (GBR) 5:49.7
5  Yvonne Godard (FRA) 5:54.4
6  Norene Forbes (USA) 6:06.0