48th Anniversary of Spitz Record-Setting 7th Olympic Gold Medal

Today marks the 48th anniversary of Mark Spitz record-setting 7th gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. In swimming, where round numbers to mark the passage of time operate in a base 4 number system more than the traditional base 10 counting system, that’s as good as 50 years.

Prior to Spitz’s record-setting haul in 1972, the previous record for gold medals in a single Olympics was held by the Italian fencer Nedo Nadi, who won 5 gold medals at the 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium. Spitz held the record until 2008 when Michael Phelps took home 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

After completing his Olympic events, Spitz left Munich earlier than originally planned following the events that became known as the Munich Massacre. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and later murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September.  As Spitz is Jewish there was concern that he could have become a target as well.

Spitz swam on 2 gold medal relays in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. The winning times were 3:31.70 in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay and 7:52.33 in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay.

The two record-breaking gold medalists, Spitz and Phelps, met for the first time at an awards ceremony during the 2004 U.S. Olympic time trials. Following their meeting, Phelps remarked, “Wow! That’s probably one of the most exciting moments I’ve had in sports.”

After the Munich games and at the age of 22, Spitz retired from competitive swimming. Spitz, who has been a motivational speaker and has been involved in real estate investment and swimming pool design since his retirement now lives in Los Angeles, California with his family.

Here are Spitz’s 7 gold medal and world record swims from the 1972 Olympics:


Event Time Date of Medal Final
200m Butterfly 2:00.70 August 28, 1972
4x100m Freestyle Relay 3:26.42 August 28, 1972
200m Freestyle 1:52.78 August 29, 1972
100m Butterfly 54.27 August 31, 1972
4x200m Freestyle Relay 7:35.78 August 31, 1972
100m Freestyle 51.22 September 3, 1972
4x100m Medley Relay 3:48.16 September 4, 1972

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1 year ago

Amazing swimmer!

Reply to  Gheko
1 year ago

And amazing person…warm, kind, intelligent and socially conscious.

Fraser Thorpe
1 year ago

Interesting how similar the 68/72 men’s times echo the current women’s WRs – but also that the longer the event the further behind the men in this era fall. Advances in understanding energy systems and training?

Reply to  Fraser Thorpe
1 year ago

The gap between the genders is naturally much bigger in short distances due to raw strength, power, explosiveness.
In ultra endurance events women are quite close to men, especially percentage wise comparing their times

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Anonymoose
1 year ago

They actually had a fairly good understanding of how to train energy systems back then — at least the best of the coaches (Haines, Counsilman, Daland, etc.) did. I would say that current women have closed the gap on raw strength, power, explosiveness compared to the Spitz era. Those guys didn’t Olympic lift and really didn’t have the training for athleticism — Spitz was scrawny, and not explosive. Just unreal naturally gifted for feel for the water and ultra-confident. Now you have U. Tenn. women doing cleans in the hotel hallway in the middle of SECs, and most guys would likely get their ass kicked by most of the top women sprinters.

1 year ago

Greatest mustache swims in history

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Aquaman
1 year ago

Plus what a flex. I’ll kick your rear you bald-headed Steve Genter even with a mustache.

He Said What?
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago


1 year ago

I don’t think they actually swam a 4×100 IM relay?