Dolfin Swim of the Week: Mark Spitz’s First World Record On This Day in 1967

Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The  Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Olympic legend Mark Spitz made his first foray into the world record books on this day in 1967 – and re-set that world record almost exactly one year later.

Swimming at a small, local meet in Hayward, California, a 17-year-old Spitz went 4:10.6 to become the first man ever under 4:11 in the 400-meter freestyle. By that point, Spitz was already an age group phenom and a national high school record-holder, and had won four gold medals at the Maccabiah Games in 1965. His world record breakthrough came on June 25, 1967. Later that summer, Spitz would win a record five gold medals at the Pan American Games. He didn’t even swim the 400 free at that meet, and watched teammate Greg Charlton lower the world record to 4:08.2.

But almost exactly one year after Spitz’s first world record swim, he was back at the local relay meet in Hayward, blasting a 4:07.7 to become the first man under 4:08 in the event. That summer, Spitz would go on to win two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 1968 Olympics.


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Brad Flood
1 year ago

Thank You for this memory! I was a 12-year old then (yeah, I am That old!) swimmer and remember this vividly. This really sparked my intense interest in competitive swimming and initiated my desire to pursue competitive swimming as an athlete and as a career swimming coach.

Tim Musch
8 months ago

I swam both of those 400 meter frees at the San Leandro Relays that were held at Chabot College in Hayward, CA. My coach, Bob During and coach George Haines were very good friends and George always brought his Santa Clara swimmers to the relays meet.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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