Danyon Loader wins 400m Gold, Atlanta 1996

Loader dominated the prized 400m freestyle event in Atlanta, winning the final in an even more decisive fashion than his win in the 200m two days earlier. His winning time of 3min 47.97s put him well ahead of the Briton, Paul Palmer, 3min 49.00s, and Kowalski.

Three months before the Olympics it seemed the gold would be disputed by Kieren Perkins, of Australia, and American Tom Dolan, but Perkins didn’t make the Australian team in this event and Dolan didn’t get past the preliminaries in Atlanta. Perkins watched the race and said: “I knew by the 200m mark that Danyon couldn’t be beaten. He can beat any swimmer in the world if the field isn’t more than half a body length ahead at that stage. Danyon is so good you can’t afford to give him even a sniff over the final stages.” Palmer described the New Zealander as “a phenomenal swimmer”. “He has the best finish I’ve seen. He is amazingly strong. I’d hate to think what work he does in training.” And Dolan said: “He’s a one-in-a-million swimmer. He’s casual and seems laid-back, but in the water he’s a killer.”

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