Together with Arne Borg, Gunnar Larsson is considered as Sweden’s greatest all-time swimmer. Larsson first competed internationally at the 1968 Olympics, competing in three individual freestyle events and two freestyle relays, but his specialty was the individual medley. At the 1970 European Championships, he won three gold medals – the 400 freestyle and both IMs. His winning times in the 400 freestyle (4:02.6) and 200 IM (2:09.3) were also world records. For those achievements, Larsson was awarded the Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal.
At the 1972 Olympics, American Gary Hall was considered as the favorite for individual medley golds. The 400 IM was contested first and in the final Hall led for the first 300 metres but was overtaken by Larsson and Tim McKee in the freestyle leg and they finished almost simultaneously, the electronic timing giving both the time of 4:31.98. However, the electronic timer could measure to the 1/1000ths of a second and when that was done, Larsson had the gold medal – 4:31.981 to 4:31.983. Thousandth-second timing was used again at the 1973 World Championships, but the controversy over the accuracy of such timing caused FINA to change their rules, so that in the future swimming times would only be measured to the hundredths of a second. Three days later Larsson won his second gold medal in the 200 IM, comfortably ahead of McKee with a world record time of 2:07.17. At the 1973 World Championships Larsson won gold in the 200 IM, his favorite event.
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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