Lance Larson, Who Lost a Disputed Olympic Swim Race, Dies at 83

Lance Larson, a champion Southern California swimmer whose apparent victory in the 100-meter freestyle race at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome was snatched away within minutes by the chief judge, died on Jan. 19 in Orange, Calif. He was 83.

His son Lance Jr. said the death, in a hospice facility, was caused by complications of pneumonia.

The race had been very close, led at first by Manuel Dos Santos of Brazil until John Devitt, an Australian, overtook him.

“At the 75-meter mark, Larson sees a shadow to his left, slightly ahead, and says to himself, ‘When are you going to start moving?’” David Maraniss wrote in his book “Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World” (2008). “And he starts moving.”

The two swimmers were no farther apart “than the width of a flattened sardine,” the New York Times sports columnist Arthur Daley wrote.

Larson touched the wall underwater, and Devitt touched above the water.

John Devitt of Australia, top, and Larson finished the race at virtually the same time. The timekeepers determined that Larson finished first by one-tenth of a second, but the chief judge declared Devitt the winner.Credit…Associated Press

Larson “flipped joyously backward, kicking off in a long glide to celebrate what he thought was victory,” Sports Illustrated wrote.

We are having trouble retrieving the article content.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Want all of The Times? Subscribe.

Related Articles

Back to top button