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The 200m Obstacle Race - a novel swimming event in Paris 1900

This unusual swimming event held at the 1900 Paris Olympics seems very complex, but a lot of fun too. The 200m Obstacle Race was a combination of a swimming event and an obstacle race - the competitors had to climb over a pole, then scramble over a row of boats, and then swim under another row of boats.

All this was done in the River Seine, so the competitors also had to contend with the strong river current. This event was only ever held once, in 1900, but it would be a crowd favorite if it was ever to return. (obstacle racing may be part of the new Modern Pentathlon format)


  1. Frederick Lane (Australia) 2:38.4
  2. Otto Wahle (AUT) 2:40.0
  3. Peter Kemp (GBR) 2:47.4

The winner Frederick Lane of Australia also won the 200 meter freestyle event (his prize in the freestyle event, instead of a gold medal, was a 50-pound bronze horse). He had also been clever in winning the obstacle event, knowing that the stern was the best way to get into (and therefore over) a boat.

Lane also won the 200m freestyle event (with no obstacles!). His winning time in the obstacle race was only 13 seconds slower than his time without things in the way.

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