Tacticians Battle It Out
The final of the 1500 metres Olympic Championship in Montreal, 1976, was a battle of the tacticians. Bobby Hackett, a student at Fordham Prep in the Bronx, took the lead with his astonishing early speed . At the 300 mark, Steve Holland, the Australian wonder-boy, was in second place, already 6 metres behind. All this time, Brian Goodell, the world-record-holder, a student at Mission Viejo High School, seemed content to amble along in third position swimming at his own pace.
Now Holland started to move up as Hackett faded slightly. At the 950 metres mark, to the great delight of the Australian contingent, Holland took the lead. Gradually the 5ft-8ins Goodell started to build his pace for a negative split. He caught Hackett at 1,350 metres, and then drew level with Holland 25 metres further down the course. A three-way battle was on!
Goodell swam the last 400 metres of the race in 3:56.69, at that time the fastest-ever finish in the 1500 event. The crowd was on its feet,wild with excitement as the three titans fought it out down the last lap to the finish pad. Only 2.5 seconds separated first and third place as Goodell won in 15:02.40 and Hackett moved up into second place (15:03.91) with Stephen Holland third in 15:04.60. All three swimmers broke Goodell's month-old world record of 15:06.6, set at the Long Beach U.S. Olympic Trials, as they swam one of the most memorable 1500 metres races of all time.