Swimming at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metre backstroke

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Men's 100 metre backstroke
at the Games of the IV Olympiad
Venue White City Stadium
Dates July 16
July 17
Competitors 21 from 11 nations
1st, gold medalist(s) Arno Bieberstein  Germany
2nd, silver medalist(s) Ludvig Dam  Denmark
3rd, bronze medalist(s) Herbert Haresnape  Great Britain
← 1904
(100 yd)
1912 →
Swimming at the
1908 Summer Olympics
Sample picture of the event (unofficial)
100 m   men    
400 m men
1500 m men
100 m men
200 m men
Freestyle relay
4×200 m men

The men's 100 metre backstroke was one of six swimming events on the swimming at the 1908 Summer Olympics programme.[1] It was the only backstroke event on the schedule. It was the first appearance of the event, after a 100-yard event was held in 1904. The competition was held on Thursday July 16, 1908 and on Friday July 17, 1908.

Twenty-one swimmers from eleven nations competed.


These were the standing world and Olympic records (in minutes) prior to the 1908 Summer Olympics.

World Record  ?  ?
Olympic Record 1:16.8(*) Germany Walter Brack St. Louis (USA) September 6, 1904

(*) 100 yards (= 91.44 m)

In the first heat Arno Bieberstein set the first Olympic record with 1:25.6 minutes. In the first semi-final he equalized his time and in the final he bettered his own record with 1:24.6 minutes. The time set in the final was the first official world record for this distance.


First round[edit]

Thursday July 16, 1908: The fastest swimmer in each heat and the fastest loser advanced, qualifying 8 swimmers for the semifinals.

Heat 1

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Arno Bieberstein (GER) 1:25.6 QQ OR
2  Frederick Unwin (GBR) 1:30.0
3  Hugo Jonsson (FIN) Unknown

Heat 2

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Max Ritter (GER) 1:33.4 QQ
2  Sidney Willis (GBR) 1:34.4
3  John Henriksson (FIN) Unknown

Heat 3

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Colin Lewis (GBR) 1:30.2 QQ
2  Bartholomeus Roodenburch (NED) 1:36.2
3  Robert Zimmerman (CAN) Unknown

Heat 4

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Herbert Haresnape (GBR) 1:26.2 QQ
2  Ludvig Dam (DEN) 1:26.4 qq
3  Amilcare Beretta (ITA) Unknown

Heat 5

Parvin had no competition in the fifth heat.

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Stanley Parvin (GBR) 1:35.2 QQ

Heat 6

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  John Taylor (GBR) 1:25.8 QQ
2  Augustus Goessling (USA) 1:29.0
3  Gustaf Wretman (SWE) Unknown
 Oscar Grégoire (BEL) Did not finish

Heat 7

Kugler started before the signal, causing him to be disqualified and his first-place finish nullified.

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Gustav Aurisch (GER) 1:27.4 QQ
2  Johan Cortlever (NED) Unknown
3  Eric Seaward (GBR) Unknown
 Sándor Kugler (HUN) (1:27.0) DSQ


Thursday July 16, 1908: The fastest two swimmers from each semifinal advanced to the final.

Semifinal 1

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Arno Bieberstein (GER) 1:25.6 QF =OR
2  Ludvig Dam (DEN) Unknown QF
3  Max Ritter (GER) Unknown
4  Stanley Parvin (GBR) Unknown

Semifinal 2

Place Swimmer Time Qual.
1  Gustav Aurisch (GER) 1:28.2 QF
2  Herbert Haresnape (GBR) 1:28.8 QF
3  John Taylor (GBR) Unknown
4  Colin Lewis (GBR) Unknown


Friday July 17, 1908.

Place Swimmer Time
1  Arno Bieberstein (GER) 1:24.6 WR
2  Ludvig Dam (DEN) 1:26.6
3  Herbert Haresnape (GBR) 1:27.0
4  Gustav Aurisch (GER) Unknown


  1. ^ "Swimming at the 1908 London Summer Games: Men's 100 metres Backstroke". Sports Reference. Retrieved 28 August 2016. 


  • Cook, Theodore Andrea (1908). The Fourth Olympiad, Being the Official Report. London: British Olympic Association. 
  • De Wael, Herman (2001). "Swimming 1908". Herman's Full Olympians. Retrieved 13 May 2006.