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Spitz, Mark

Mark Spitz

1950-

American swimmer

During the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany, young American swimmer Mark Spitz won seven gold medals, the most by any individual in any Olympiad, and set as many world records. Spitz, a detailed strategist in and out of the water, was named 1972 World Swimmer of the Year. He over-came his share of disappointment and even tragedy, which may have made him an even stronger competitor. Three decades later, he continues to be a booster for his sport.

"Swimming Isn't Everything"

As soon as he began walking, Mark Spitz began to swim. At age two, his parents, Lenore and Arnold Spitz, moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where Arnold Spitz, an executive with a steel company, had been transferred. He swam daily at Waikiki Beach. "You should have seen that little boy dash into the ocean," his mother later told a Time magazine reporter.

Soon, with strong encouragement from his family, Spitz was swimming competitively. Having returned to his native California at age six, he began his formal training at the Sacramento YMCA. Three years later, Arnold Spitz took his precocious son to the Arden Hills Swim Club to train with Sherm Chavoor, who would remain

a mentor for many years. By age ten, Spitz had won 17 age-group events. That year, Spitz had a scheduling problem when his after-school swim workout conflicted with Hebrew school. His father intervened and told the rabbi, "Even God likes a winner." The family relocated to Santa Clara so that, despite an 80-mile commute for his father, Spitz could train with the celebrated George Haines at the Santa Clara Swim Club. "Swimming isn't everything," his father used to tell his son, "winning is." In 1965, the teenager entered his first international competition at the Olympic-style Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv and won four gold medals. (Upon his return four years later, he won six more golds.)

In 1966, the high school student won the national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championships with the 100-meter butterfly. By age 17, Spitz broke his first world record with a time of 4 minutes, 10.6 seconds in the 400-meter freestyle. Full of confidence, Spitz qualified for the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City and boasted he would win six medals. He faced bitter disappointment. Not only was he a target of anti-Semitism from some team members, he also failed to meet his own expectations. He won only two golds, both in relay events, though he did take the silver in the 100-meter butterfly and the bronze in the 100-meter freestyle. It was, he told a journalist, "the worst meet of my life." While many athletes would have reveled in medaling at all, for Spitz the event was a disaster. There was little the 18-year-old could do but to brace himself for a comeback, or quit.

Glory Days

Spitz was no quitter. Knowing he had a long road ahead, he vowed to commit himself to training with the finest. Recruited by Indiana University in Bloomington, which had one of the nation's most outstanding aquatics program, Spitz enrolled in 1969. A pre-dental student, Spitz worked with working with James "Doc" Counsilman, former national swimming champion, coach, and kinetics researcher. By the time he graduated, Spitz, who had been captain of the Hoosiers, earned World Swimmer of the Year award from Swimming World magazine in 1967, 1971 and 1972. In 1971 he became the first Jewish recipient of the AAU's annual James E. Sullivan Memorial Award for athleticism, leadership, character, and sportsmanship.

Spitz won five gold medals at the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, thirty-one AAU titles, eight National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships (four times in the 100-yard butterfly), and 33 world records. His contact with coaches Chavoor, Haines, and Counsilman, all members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, helped Spitz mature as a man and a swimmer. As the 1972 Olympics advanced, Spitz had established himself. Gone was the pretense of 1968 and in its place was a focused competitorwith a mustache.

It took four months to grow, but Spitz was proud of it. He had intended to shave his mustache for the Munich Olympics but since he did so well at the trialshe broke the world record in the 200-meter butterflyhe decided the mustache was a "good-luck piece." During a practice swim, Spitz noticed the Soviets photographing him. Asked whether the mustache added unwanted drag to the swimmer. Spitz answered, "No, it actually deflects water from my mouth and allows me to keep my head in a lower position that helps my speed," he later told Newsweek magazine. His answer was pure invention, but the Soviets didn't know that. Suddenly, several Soviet swimmers began sporting mustaches in competition. Another Spitz tactic included changing his usual stroke to a highly inefficient one during practice, so that the spying Soviets might again be thrown off. When they inquired about his "unconventional" stroke, Spitz again spouted nonsense, this time about how the ungainly stroke actually builds muscle.

Prepares Seriously

Prior to the athletic events, Spitz spoke to the media and though he was brief, his remarks reflected his newfound seriousness. "I can't devote too much time to you guys," he told the press. "I need the time to psyche myself up."

That he did. The first event was the 200-meter butterfly. Spitz won it in a record-breaking 2:00.7. His pure joy launched him from the water and he stood by the poolside, arms raised in victory. That same day, he swam his leg in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, and though his team took the gold, Spitz was a bit unnerved by teammate Jerry Heidenreich's time, which clocked .12 of a second faster than his.

Chronology

1950 Born February 10 in Modesto, California
1958 Begins swimming competitively
1961 Comes under guidance of coach Sherm Chavoor
1965 Competes in Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, his first international event
1966 Competes in National Amateur Athletic Union 100-meter butterfly
1967 Competes in Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Canada
1968 Vows to win gold in all events at Mexico City Olympics but takes gold only in the 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter freestyle relays
1969 Graduates from Indiana University, where he swims for coach James "Doc" Counsilman
1972 Leaves Olympic Games early after winning gold medals and after killing of Israeli athletes in Olympic village
1973 Formally retires from swimming
1973 Signs with William Morris Agency, earning $5 million in endorsements
1973 Marries Suzy Weiner
1987 Autobiography Seven Golds published
1989 Attempts a comeback and begins training for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics
1992 Fails to qualify in the 100-meter butterfly and concedes defeat, beginning second retirement
1998 Proposes creating initiative to address problem of swimmers and performance-enhancing drugs

Awards and Accomplishments

1960 Wins seventeen national age-group titles
1966 Wins first of 24 national Amateur Athletic Union championships
1967 World records in 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, and 200-meter butterfly events; five gold medals at Pan-American Games
1968 Individual bronze and silver medalist at Mexico City Olympics, gold in the 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter freestyle relays
1969 World Swimmer of the Year
1971 Amateur Athletic Union's James E. Sullivan Memorial Award; World Swimmer of the Year
1972 World records in all seven events at Munich Olympics, first athlete to win seven Olympic gold medals in one Olympiad; World Swimmer of the Year; Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
1977 Inducted into International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, as an honor swimmer
1983 Inducted into U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, with first class of inductees

Nevertheless, he won gold in his second solo event, the 200-meter freestyle in 1:52.78, though it ignited controversy from the Soviet contingent. The brouhaha began when Spitz stood barefoot on the medal stand, shoes in hand. During the national anthem, he dropped his shoes by his side, only to retrieve them and wave them to the applauding audience. The Soviets complained to the International Olympic Committee, charging Spitz with

promoting a commercial product. Spitz defended himself by saying the gesture was completely spontaneous, the shoes were old, and he was receiving no financial reward. Spitz was cleared and concentrated on the next event, the 100-meter butterfly, his favorite. He won it by a full body length in a record 54.27 seconds.

After the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, which brought yet another gold for the Americans, the swimmer got cold feet. Spitz had so far swum a perfect Olympics, winning gold in all five events. With two more events to go and a case of nerves, Spitz contacted his former coach, Sherm Chavoor, who was in Munich with the American women's team. Concerned about both saving his strength for the 4x100-meter medley relay, and haunted by Heidenreich's performance in the 400-meter relay, Spitz asked Chavoor whether he ought to duck out of the next event, the 100-meter freestyle. The coach urged Spitz to compete, and warned that sitting out the race would look as though he had lost his competitive edge. In a later interview, Spitz told journalists, "I just tried to keep my cool and continue with my race plan: to win."

Spitz proved unpredictable to his competitors in the 100-meter freestyle as he swam the first lap at full strength, being the first to touch the wall in 24.56 seconds. During the semifinal heat, he had stayed behind, finishing after Australia's defending champion Michael Wenden and Heidenreich. But during the final it was a completely different race. Though he lost his rhythm during the second lap, Spitz continued charging ahead to beat Heidenreich by half a stroke, winning the event in 51.22, shaving his own world record by .25 seconds. The final event was the 4 × 100-meter relay. For Spitz, as a member of the American team, this would be the final hurdle in a bid to make a clean, unprecedented sweep of Olympic gold. On September 4, 1972, Spitz, in the Munich Schwimhalle, won his seventh gold in his seventh event, all of which set world records.

Olympic Tragedy

The day after Spitz's heroics was even more memorable than the days that preceded it. Early on the morning of September 5, eight Palestinian terrorists invaded the Israeli team headquarters in the Olympic Village, killing two Israeli athletes. Nine Israeli athletes were taken hostage. The terrorists, known as Black September, demanded the release of political prisoners. As the world watched the standoff on live television, German authorities took the terrorists and their prisoners to an airfield for a flight out of the country. But later in the day, a German police rescue attempt failed, ending in the killing of all nine hostages.

By 11:30 that morning, a security detail surrounded Spitz, who, as an American Jew, was considered a potential terrorist target. The plans for him to attend various winners' ceremonies throughout Germany were suddenly and secretly changed. "I completely freaked out," he told Phillip Whitten of Swim Info. "Here it was, twenty-seven years after the end of World War II, and there were still madmen killing Jews because they are Jews." Surrounded by six armed guards, Spitz was taken to London for a photo shoot to which he had committed with a German magazine, and then flown home to California, where he expected to begin dental school.

When he finally arrived home that Wednesday morning, he watched the Olympic memorial service on television with his two sisters. "The whole thing took on a surreal quality," he told Whitten. "I was in Sacramento, sitting in my living room like Johnny Lunchbucket, watching the Olympics on TV, as if I had never been there. A few days later I was in temple for a Rosh Hashanah service, sitting next to Governor [Ronald] Reagan. That's when the significance of the whole sequence of events really hit me."

A New Identity

The Munich massacre overshadowed Spitz's achievements. The tragedy reverberates today, Spitz, told Whitten in 2002. "The Games have lost a sense of spontaneity. A sense of the whole world coming together in peaceful competition." On a deeply personal level, the events gave Spitz a sense of "responsibility" about publicly identifying himself as a Jew. "I felt an obligation to affirm my ties as a Jew," he added, "and to become educated on the issues so I could speak knowledgeably."

Spitz quickly became one of the most familiar faces in America, if not the world. His agent boasted that he was the greatest American hero since aviator Charles Lindbergh. He quit swimming, put his plans for dental school on ice, and sifted through the barrage of endorsement offers. In 1973 he signed a contract with the prestigious William Morris Agency, which was supposed to manage his career as a celebrity. That year, he also married Suzy Weiner, a model and theatre student at the University of California, Los Angeles. The latter move proved more successful than the former.

Spitz became the spokesman for the Schick Company, and his commercials promoting its razors were widely aired. He also represented Adidas, the California Milk Advisory Board, Speedo, and various other companies vending everything from swimming pool accessories to hairdryers and men's underwear. An image of the times, a poster of Spitz wearing his swimsuit and seven gold medals, appeared everywhere from college dorms to locker rooms and sporting goods stores. Spitz also had theatrical aspirations and appeared on television shows with luminaries that included Sonny and Cher, Bob Hope, and Johnny Carson. He made a guest appearance in the series Emergency and got a role as an announcer in the 1985 made-for-television movie Challenge of a Lifetime, starring Penny Marshall.

Producers and audiences found Spitz's on-screen persona lackluster. Gradually, advertisers also withdrew from Spitz, saying he was losing his appeal because he endorsed too many products. In addition, public relations executives and agents of the time weren't as savvy about successfully marketing athletes. As a result, Spitz lacked the guidance from his handlers that athletes today receive. In earning a reported $5 million, however, Spitz helped pioneer the lucrative game of athletic endorsements.

One Day in September

More than a quarter century after the Munich massacre, when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, director Kevin Macdonald made an award-winning documentary on the subject. Narrated by veteran actor Michael Douglas, the film also featured Ankie Spitzer, widow of Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer, and the one surviving terrorist, Jamal Al Gashey. "Macdonald brings remarkable research to the film," wrote film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. "His reporting is extraordinary, as he relentlessly builds up a case against the way the Germans and the International Olympic Committee handled the crisis." The film exposed several unsettling facts, such as the utter incompetence of the German police, the participation of Yassir Arafat, and a covert plan by which the Germans released the three surviving terrorists to disown the whole affair. (The Israeli government later assassinated two of these survivors.) One Day in September won many prizes, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2000.

Where Is He Now?

Prior to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Spitz attempted a comeback. But at age 39 and eight pounds heavier than in 1972, he failed to qualify. At the 1998 World Championships in Perth, Australia, Spitz addressed the problems of drug abuse and athletes, and he continues to make personal appearances at various competitions and sporting events. As a member of the World Sports Academy, he works to bring sports to less fortunate children of the world. Following his retirement, Spitz ventured into motivational speaking, real-estate investment, and swimming-pool design. He recently left real estate to focus on his entrepreneurial work. Spitz lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons, Matt and Justin. A veteran sailor, Spitz has often participated in the Trans Pacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. He swims with the masters team at UCLA. "I squeak, rattle, and roll," Spitz said. "I'm swimming because I love it and because it's the best thing I can do to keep myself healthy. It's something I hope to do for the rest of my life."

Self-confident and determined, Mark Spitz became the first swimmer to win seven medals in one Olympiad. That this victory followed the bitter disappointment and chastening during his first Olympic bid, and that it occurred during the most tragic Olympics of all time make Spitz's triumph that much more inspiring.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: c/o CMG Worldwide, 8560 Sunset Boulevard, 10th Floor Penthouse, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Fax: 317-570-5500. Phone: 310-854-1005. Online: www.cmgww.com/.

SELECTED WRITINGS BY SPITZ:

Spitz, Mark and Alan LeMond. The Mark Spitz Complete Book of Swimming New York: Crowell, 1976.

Seven Golds: Mark Spitz, My Own Story, New York: Doubleday, 1987.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

American Decades CD-ROM, Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. CD-ROM, Detroit: Gale Group, 2002.

Periodicals

"Cold War at the Pool, Shaking a Leg, in Pantyhose." Newsweek (October 25, 1999): 63.

Ebert, Roger. "One Day in September." Chicago Sun-Times (March 9, 2001).

Lowitt, Bruce. "All He Touches Turns to Gold."St. Petersburg Times (November 8, 1999).

Meza, Ed. "World Sports Acad. Tees Up Award Noms."Variety (March 19, 2001): 25.

Noden, Merrell. "Catching Up with Swimming Champion Mark Spitz." Sports Illustrated (August 4, 1997): 11.

"Olympic Legends Attend Launch of 'Unified Sports Day," Xinuha New Agency (October 25, 1999).

"The Way We Were: A Look Back at the Year People Began: Week of July 5-11, 1974. People Weekly (July 5, 1999): 23.

Other

CMG Worldwide. www.cmgww.com/(December 29, 2002).

Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Group, 2000.

Encarta. encarta.msn.com/(December 29, 2002).

ESPN.com, msn.espn.go.com/(December 29, 2002).

History Channel. www.historychannel.com/(January 4, 2003).

Internet Movie Database. www.imdb.com (December 30, 2002).

Jewishpeople.net. www.jewishpeople.net/(January 4, 2003).

Jewishsport.com. store.yahoo.net/jewishsport/markspitz.html (January 4, 2003).

Jews in Sports. www.jewsinsports.org/(January 4, 2003).

"Legend Mark Spitz." Swimsport.com, www.swimsprt.com/ (January 4, 2003).

"Munich Massacre Remembered." ABC Online. www.abc.net.au/(September 5, 2002).

"Munich Olympic Victims Remembered." BBC News. news.bbc.co.uk/(August 11, 2002).

Sacramento Bee, www.sacbee.com/ (December 29, 2002).

Swim Info, www.swiminfo.com/ (December 29, 2002; January 4, 2003).

Trans Pacific Yacht Club, www.transpacificyc.org/ (January 9, 2003).

Sketch by Jane Summer

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Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz

American swimmer Mark Spitz (born 1950) is considered to have been the fastest swimmer in history. For six years, beginning in 1966, he dominated the sport, winning a world record seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics held in Munich, West Germany. This was the most gold medals won by anyone in a single Olympiad, and each of his medal-winning performances broke a world swimming record. Spitz was also named World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971, and 1972.

Encouraged in Competitive Swimming by His Father

Spitz was born on February 10, 1960, in Modesto, California, to Arnold and Lenore Spitz. Spitz's family relocated to Hawaii when Spitz was two years old. There Spitz's father taught Spitz how to swim. When Spitz was six years old, the family moved back to California, settling this time in Sacramento. At the Sacramento YMCA, Spitz began to train in competitive swimming for the first time. Sensing that Spitz had surpassed the training available at the YMCA, Arnold Spitz took his son to the Arden Hills Swim Club, where he began to train under Sherm Chavoor, a well-known swim instructor. Chavoor was to remain a mentor to Spitz throughout his career.

Spitz's father was a driving force behind Spitz's swimming career, drilling into his son the maxim, as reported by M. B. Roberts on ESPN.com, "Swimming isn't everything; winning is." Spitz took his father's advice to heart; by the time he was ten years old, he held 17 national swimming records for his age group and one world record. He also earned the title of the world's top swimmer in the 10-and-under age group.

When Spitz was 14 years old, Spitz's father realized that his son was ready for a new level in his training. He decided to move the family to Santa Clara so that Spitz could train under a new coach, George Haines, who was based at the famous Santa Clara Swim Club. This move increased Spitz's father's commute to work to 80 miles each way, but he wanted more than anything else for his son to become the best swimmer he could.

The move paid off. Spitz continued to reach new levels of excellence in swimming, including in the butterfly stroke. This stroke, considered by many to be the most difficult stroke in swimming, became Spitz's favorite. When Spitz was 16 years old, he won the 100-meter butterfly title at the National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Championships. It was the only the first of 24 AAU titles he would win during his career.

Entered His First Olympics in 1968

The year 1967 saw Spitz's rise to international prominence. That year he won no less than five gold metals at the Pan-American Games, held in Winnipeg, Canada. These were for the 100-meter butterfly, the 200-meter butterfly, the 400-meter freestyle relay, the 800-meter freestyle relay, and the 400-meter medley relay.

Spitz seemed perfectly poised to sweep the 1968 Olympics, held that year in Mexico City. He boasted that he would win six gold metals there. While he did shine at the Olympics, he fell short of the goals that he had set for himself, winning two gold medals in team events—for the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay events. He also won two metals for individual events—a silver metal for the 100-meter butterfly and a bronze for the 100-meter freestyle event.

Spitz was disappointed in his showing at the Olympics, and he vowed to try harder. He knew that physically he had what it took to win gold at the Olympics; what he needed to work on was his mental preparation. He began to develop a cool demeanor, an attitude of relaxed concentration that was in marked contrast to the boastful air he had assumed in the 1968 Olympics. Following the 1968 Olympics, Spitz entered college at Indiana University, there to train with famous swimming coach Doc Counsilman. Counsilman had been Spitz's coach in Mexico City, and it was at his instigation that he went to Indiana University.

At Indiana, Spitz began a pre-dental program while continuing to swim competitively. In his freshman year, he won the 200-meter and the 500-meter freestyle, as well as the 100-meter butterfly competition at the NCAA swimming championships. He also won the 100-meter butterfly competition at the NCAA championships the following year. The year after that, 1971, he again won the NCAA championship in the 100-meter butterfly, as well as the 200-meter butterfly. His achievements earned him the Sullivan Award in 1971 for being the best amateur athlete in the United States. He was also awarded the title of World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971, and 1972.

Won Seven Olympic Gold Medals in 1972

Spitz graduated from Indiana University in 1972, just in time for the 1972 Olympics, held in Munich, West Germany. This time, he vowed to take home no less than seven gold medals. And he did. Spitz swept the swimming events exactly as he promised to do, collecting his seventh gold medal on September 4, 1972. No other athlete had ever taken home that many gold medals at a single Olympics. He won gold metals for four individual events and three team events. His first win was for the 200-meter butterfly. Next, he won the 200-meter freestyle, followed by the 100-meter butterfly. This last event was Spitz's favorite, and he won it by a full body length, reaching the finish in just 54.27 seconds. Spitz's final gold metal-winning performance in individual competition was for the 100-meter freestyle event.

In addition to his four individual gold medals, Spitz also won three gold medals for relay races. These were for the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay, the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay, and the 4 x 100-meter medley relay. With each gold metal-winning performance Spitz, then just 22, set a new world record for performance. He won all of his gold medals over a period of eight days.

Spitz's euphoria over his record seven gold metals was marred by tragedy. In the early morning hours of September 5, members of a Palestinian terrorist organization invaded the dormitory where the Olympic athletes were sleeping. They killed two Israelis and kidnapped nine others. The terrorists passed over Spitz and his American teammates, who were sound asleep not far away.

The crime rattled Spitz, who is Jewish. He made a brief statement to the press that day, saying, as reported by M. B. Roberts on ESPN.com, "I think the murders in the village are very tragic. I have no further comment." He immediately left Germany for London, without waiting to attend the Olympics' closing ceremonies. Meanwhile, the nine hostages were all killed during a botched rescue attempt.

Returned to the U.S. a Hero

In spite of the tragedy overshadowing Spitz's unprecedented achievements at the Olympics, he returned home to the United States a major celebrity, comparable in stature to Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. He was also called by some the second most recognized person in the United States, after then-president Richard Nixon. Spitz cancelled his plans to become a dentist and looked forward to making a career as a corporate spokesperson.

Soon after his return to the U.S., Spitz landed several lucrative corporate endorsement contracts. He earned about $7 million in a two-year period, and, helped by his photogenic looks, established himself as a well-known corporate spokesperson. Companies and organizations for which he endorsed products included the Schick Company, the California Milk Advisory Board, Adidas, Speedo, and many more. A photograph of Spitz wearing a swimsuit and his seven gold medals was made into a poster, and it quickly became a best seller.

Also during the year following the 1972 Olympics, Spitz courted and married Suzy Weiner, the daughter of one of his father's business associates. At the time Weiner was a theater student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and also a model.

Spitz's bid to become a Hollywood star was less successful than either his swimming career or his career as a corporate spokesperson; viewers were highly critical of his performances in television commercials and shows, which included a Bob Hope special, the Sonny & Cher show, and the Johnny Carson show. He managed to maintain a presence as a sports commentator for a few years, but after that he largely dropped out of the public eye.

Still, Spitz and his wife now had plenty of money, and he took up sailing as a hobby. Eventually he started a real estate agency in Beverly Hills, California. The business proved successful and it gave a thriving new career to the former swimming champion.

As the 1980s drew to a close, Spitz decided to come out of retirement and become an Olympic swimmer for the first time since 1972. In 1989, now 39 years old, Spitz began to train for the 1992 Olympic Trials. This decision was not completely out of the blue; in 1984 he had raced against Rowdy Gaines, who at the time held the world record time for the 100-meter butterfly—and beat him. After two years of training, Spitz was ready to attempt to qualify for the 1992 Olympics. In 1991 he raced against Tom Jager and Matt Biondi, both Olympic swimmers. The races, two separate 50-meter butterfly races, were televised on ABC's "Wide World of Sports." Unfortunately, Spitz lost both races. He also fell just over two seconds short of the qualifying time of 55:59 he needed to rejoin the U.S. Olympic swim team.

Mark Spitz settled in Los Angeles, where he continues to live with his family. Spitz enjoys to sail and has added traveling to his list of hobbies. No longer in the real estate business, he has involved himself in various other business ventures. He has also returned to his role as a spokesperson for prominent companies and organizations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee. He was found to have abnormally high cholesterol levels in 1995. He cut those levels in half through a program of diet, exercise, and medication, and then embarked on a national campaign to educate people about the risk of heart disease brought about by high cholesterol.

Spitz has not lost his competitive spirit. His backyard contains a swimming pool, but he has vowed never to race his sons in that pool. As he told Martin Fennelly in 2000 in the Tampa Tribune, "I never race them. I never race. Because I've taught them that when I swim against somebody, I don't care if you're my son, I'm going to kick your butt."

Periodicals

Independent, September 6, 1998.

Tampa Tribune, June 16, 2000.

Times-Picayune, September 26, 1999.

Online

"Laureus World Sports Awards—Mark Spitz," WorldSport.com,http://www.worldsport.com (March 11, 2003).

"Spitz Lived Up to Enormous Expectations," ESPN.com,http://www.espn.go.com (March 11, 2003). □

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Spitz, Mark Andrew

Mark Andrew Spitz, 1950–, American swimmer, b. Modesto, Calif. He held records for winning the most gold medals at one Olympic game (seven, in 1972 at Munich) and shared the record for most Olympic gold medals overall (nine, 1968–72) until surpassed in both by Michael Phelps in the 2008. Spitz's 1972 victories were in the 100-m and 200-m freestyle, the 100-m and 200-m butterfly, and as a member of three relay teams. In 1968, at Mexico City, he won golds in two relays, a silver in the 100-m butterfly, and a bronze in the 100-m freestyle. Spitz retired and became a television sports commentator.

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