Today in Swimming History ~ April 11, 1896 ~ Swimming begins at the Athens Olympic Games ~Alfred Hajos wins first Olympic gold medal ever awarded in swimming

Today in Swimming History…….127 years ago, on April 11, 1896, ISHOF Honor Swimmer, Alfred Hajós of Hungary beats Otto Herschmann of Austria by 0.6s to win the inaugural Olympic 100m freestyle final in a time of 1:22.2 at the first Olympiad in Athens, Greece; He would also take gold in the 1200m on the same day.

Hajos and his Hungarian teammates were one of only three countries that competed in first Olympic Games in swimming. The other two were Austria and Greece. There was a fourth country that competed in the Games, the U.S.A., but they competed in sports other than swimming.

Hajos was inducted into ISHOF in 1966. Read about the rest of his life after that first Olympiad below.


The information on this page was written the year of their induction.

FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1896 gold (100m, 1200m freestyle); first Olympic swim champion. The first modern Olympic swimming champion was Alfred Hajos, a double winner at Athens in 1896.  Hajos won the 100 meter freestyle in 1:22.2 beating out the local favorite Chorophas and Herschmann of Austria.

Olympic Swimmers at 1896 Athens Games

The Austrians got back in the swim as Paul Neumann won the 500 meter freestyle over two more Greeks while Hajos was resting up for his second win, the 1200 meter freestyle in 18:22.2.  Thus Alfred Hajos took home two of the three gold medals offered in swimming.  His teammate, Zoltan Halmay got only a third, but came back in the next four Olympics to be the other Hungarian from the first Olympics to make the International Swimming Hall of Fame.  The Austrian Neumann became a prominent U.S. doctor.  Hajos stayed in Hungary, survived World War I, and came back to the Olympics 28 years after his first try, this time 1924 Paris, where he won another gold medal.  It was in a cultural Olympic art and architectural contest.

Architect Hajos later designed Budapest’s finest competitive swimming pool, club and baths in which Hungary trained its next great Olympic 100 meter champion, Czik Ference in 1936, and its great postwar women swimmers, Szoke, Gyenge, Szekely, Temes and the Novak Sisters.

The National Swimming Pool was opened in 1930. A contemporary newspaper called it the crown of Alfred Hajós’ career.
The National Swimming Pool was commissioned by the Royal Hungarian Ministry for Religion and Education. The minister, Kuno Klebersberg (1875–1932), saw the swimming pool as a vital project.

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