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|