Spitz is the greatest swimmer in history and holder of the
achievement of the modern
Olympic Games: winning seven gold
medal victories in one Olympiad. And,
each of the gold medals was won while
setting a World record.
Spitz won 11 Olympic medals over
two Olympic Games but always will be
best remembered for his remarkable
seven gold medals at the 1972 Games.
That summer in Munich, Spitz set four
individual World records: 100-Meter
(51.22), 200-Meter Freestyle (1:52.78), 100-Meter (54.27),
and 200-Meter Butterfly
(2:00.70). He also participated in
three relay event World records: 4 x 100
Freestyle (3:26.42), 4 x 200 Freestyle
(7:35.78), and 4 x 100 Medley (3:48.16).
He swam the third leg of the 200
Freestyle and 100 Medley, and the last
leg of the 100 Freestyle.
His final victory came only hours
before Palestinian terrorists took hostage
and eventually murdered 11 Israeli
athletes in the Munich Olympic Village.
Spitz was unceremoniously whisked
out of the country under heavy security
Four years earlier, in 1968, Spitz won
four Olympic medals at the Mexico
Games: golds in two relay events—4 x
100 (3:31.7) and 200 (7:52.3), a silver in
the 100-Meter Butterfly (56.4), and a
bronze in the 100-Meter Freestyle (53.0).
Mark swam the final leg of the World record–setting
4 x 100 event and swam
third position on the 4 x 200 team.
Between 1965 and 1972, Spitz won
nine Olympic gold medals, one silver,
and one bronze; five Pan-American
golds; 31 National U.S. Amateur Athletic
Union titles; and eight U.S. National Collegiate
Athletic Association Champi-onships. During those years,
he set 33
He was World Swimmer of the Year
in 1967, 1971, and 1972. In 1971, Spitz became the first
Jewish recipient of the
James E. Sullivan Award, given annually
to the Amateur Athlete of the Year. In bicentennial year
2000, Sports Illustrated named Spitz No. 33 on its list
of the ‘Top 100 Athletes of the 20th Century’.
The 1965 Maccabiah Games
was Mark’s first international competition,
and he returned to Israel in 1969, following
the Mexico Olympics, to again
compete in the Maccabiah. In all, Spitz
won 10 Maccabiah gold medals.