Michael Wenden

1949 -

Michael Wenden did not have a stylish stroke at the time of his golden streak in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He sums it up these days as "hell for leather, getting to the other end... as fast and furiously as possible." One respected critic, Pat Besford, wrote of him: "He looks like a water beetle gone mad." Wenden was known as a "drop-dead sprinter", flailing away with nearly 60 strokes to the lap to his opponents' 40. The fluidity or otherwise of his style was irrelevant in Mexico City; what mattered was that he did get to the other end quickly - winning gold medals in the 100m and 200m freestyle, setting a world record in the shorter distance and an Olympic record in the longer. In doing so he beat the American superstars Mark Spitz and Don Schollander. He also won silver and bronze in relays.

Wenden came under the influence of an unconventional coach, former army commando Vic Arneil, when he was 13. Arneil, whose motto was, "If you're going to swim fast, swim bloody fast," set him a pure sprint program. The 200m Olympic record Wenden broke was the sport's oldest; the event had not been on the program since 1904, and Australia's Freddie Lane set the record in 1900. Wenden had trouble adjusting to Mexico City's high altitude; for two weeks his heart pumped so fast he could not swim and hardly sleep. After his 200m final he lost consciousness and sank; his team-mate Bob Windle came to his aid, pulling him to the surface.

Harry Gordon, AOC historian

Olympic Results

Munich 1972 - Summer Olympic Games

100m Freestyle - Men
Heat 52.34 1st
Semi Final 52.32 1st
Final 52.41 5th
Final Placing 5 / 48
200m Freestyle - Men
Heat 1:56.66 1st
Final 1:54.40 4th
Final Placing 4 / 46
4 x 100m Medley Relay - Men
Heat COOPER, B; JARVIE, P; ROGERS, N; WENDEN, M 4:00.16 3
Final Placing 4 / 17
4 x 200m Freestyle Relay - Men
Heat WINDEATT, G; FEATHERSTONE, B; WHITE, G; WENDEN, M 7:49.03 1
Final WENDEN, M; WINDEATT, G; NAY, R; COOPER, B 7:48.66 5
Final Placing 5 / 14

Mexico City 1968 - Summer Olympic Games

100m Freestyle - Men
Heat 53.5 1st
Semi Final 52.9 1st
Final 52.2 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 64
200m Freestyle - Men
Heat 1:59.3 1st
Final 1:55.2 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 57
4 x 100m Freestyle Relay - Men
Heat ROGERS, G; CUSACK, R; WINDLE, R; WENDEN, M 3:38.0 2
Final ROGERS, G; CUSACK, R; WINDLE, R; WENDEN, M 3:34.7 3  
Final Placing 3 / 16
4 x 100m Medley Relay - Men
Heat BYROM, K; O'BRIEN, I; CUSACK, R; WENDEN, M 4:04.8 1
Final BYROM, K; O'BRIEN, I; CUSACK, R; WENDEN, M 4:00.8 4
Final Placing 4 / 18
4 x 200m Freestyle Relay - Men
Heat ROGERS, G; WHITE, G; WINDLE, R; WENDEN, M 8:04.8 1
Final ROGERS, G; WHITE, G; WINDLE, R; WENDEN, M 7:53.7 2  
Final Placing 2 / 15

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