Mark Spitz 50 Years After Munich in Docuseries “72 – A Gathering of Champions”

Mark Spitz‘s episode of  “72 – A Gathering of Champions” is live now. See it here.

The International Olympic Committee’s docuseries “72 – A Gathering of Champions” is a treasured gift for Olympic fans. For me, it’s a new and intimate window on my childhood hero, Mark Spitz, and his stunning performance at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

“There were eight filmmakers at the Olympic Games in 1972, filmmakers I didn’t know were there,” Mark explained. “They have over 300 hours of footage.”

The footage is 35mm. It’s lush, old school, big-movie-screen film. In the docuseries this media is inter-cut with Olympic stars from the 1972 Games.

“They captured me October of last year in Munich,” Mark said. “Hours of interviews were done as I retraced my steps at the pool, the mess hall, even the dormitory where I stayed.”

You can see the series on olympics.com. Episode 1 and 2 (of 4 total) are live now.

Episode 3 drops August 25th, and it’s entirely about Mark Spitz, the must-see episode.

Episode 4 drops September first.
(The entire series will air on television. Details of where/when will officially be announced September 15th.)

See the two minute trailer here.

Mark Spitz will forever be swimming’s first superstar. He owned that honor for 36 years, until Michael Phelps won eight Olympic gold medals in Beijing. In Munich Mark won seven Olympic gold medals, all in world record times:

  • 100-meter freestyle (51.22),
  • 200-meter freestyle (1:52.78)
  • 100-meter butterfly (54.27)
  • 200-meter butterfly (2:00.70)
  • 4×100-meter freestyle relay (3:26.42)
  • 4×200-meter freestyle relay (7:35.78)
  • 4×100-meter medley relay (3:48.16)

Back then goggles were illegal. Mark didn’t wear a swimming cap, and nylon was the top-end of racing tech for swimsuits.

Media coverage of the 1972 Olympic Games was scant compared to what fans are used to now. ABC Sports covered competitions more like the evening news. There’s only 52 minutes of actual race coverage and interviews with Mark from the original telecast of the ’72 Games. By comparison Michael Phelps’ coverage in 2008 was similar to two full seasons of watching your favorite TV star on a top dramatic series—and that was compressed into eight days.

If you’re like me, someone who feels that childlike thrill seeing your hero onscreen, watch Mark Spitz in EPISODE THREE HERE ON AUGUST 25TH.

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Rev
1 month ago

Spitz swam for chavoor then moved to Santa Clara to swim with Haines then went to college to swim for councilman. He says his coach at the 72 olympics was chavoor Did he go back to train with chavoor after college prior to the olympics?

Kim
1 month ago

The only true global swimming star in modern time swimming has ever produced – Phelps, Thorpe etc. could have learned so much from him about branding and marketing – nobody outside the realm of sport knows who Phelps is, maybe in the US but not globally. Spitz is still an icon.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kim
SuperSwimmer 2000
Reply to  Kim
1 month ago

I think you have it exactly reversed.

Bud
Reply to  Kim
1 month ago

That’s nonsense, every human being who was at a reasonable age in 2008 knows who Phelps is.

Kim
Reply to  Bud
1 month ago

They know who Ronaldo, Federer LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton is, but not Phelps – in swimming circles yes, but not in the generel public world wide. Phelps is a swimming star/Olympic legend, but not a global brand. Spitz made a name out of his performance in Munich, Phelps never did.Phelps didn’t even win the Laureus Award in 08 – he won come back of the year in 17.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kim
Maverick
Reply to  Kim
1 month ago

You must be on something

Kim
Reply to  Maverick
1 month ago

The truth hurts.

Admin
Reply to  Kim
1 month ago

I guarantee you that in 2022, more people globally know who Michael Phelps is than Mark Spitz. I’d bet you a billion dollars on it.

There is at least a passingly-objective measure: ESPN’s World Fame 100. Phelps was #46 in 2016, at the tail end of his career: http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/15685581/espn-world-fame-100

I can see why someone who was maybe a teenager, a swimmer, in 1976 would think that Spitz is more iconic and globally-known than Phelps. We all tend to over-remember the people and things who were most famous in our youth, in part because we were all less jaded when we were younger.

I mean, Phelps’ name has been dropped in songs by… Read more »

mahaney
1 month ago

it took me so long to figure out that “douseries” isnt some fancy french word but rather a typo lol

Gold Medal Mel
Reply to  mahaney
1 month ago

Definition of docuseries
: a documentary that is telecast in a series of programs
Examples of docuseries in a Sentence
Recent Examples on the Web
In this docuseries, the Woodstock ‘99 music festival in Rome, New York, unfolds with rage, riots, and violence.
— Travis Bean, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022
This British docuseries recounts how Donald Trump made his way to the presidency.
— Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 30 July 2022
Yet this six-part docuseries from Lawrence Kasdan, a veteran of that franchise, also contains a broader look at how technology can fundamentally reshape an industry in a way that can put even ingenious buggy-whip makers out of business.
— Brian Lowry, CNN, 27 July 2022

Mediocre Swammer
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel
1 month ago

I think the poster is referring to the typo that exists in (at least) the url, where the “c” is missing from “docuseries.” It’s possible it previously appeared in the article, though it doesn’t now.

Ben Van Dyk
1 month ago

Not to take anything away from Spitz but to me swimming’s first superstar was Johnny Weissmuller.

Sally
Reply to  Ben Van Dyk
1 month ago

Lets go wirh Hajós Alfréd

maximum mchuge
Reply to  Ben Van Dyk
1 month ago

My great grandfather swam with him

Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

Telecasts may not have covered multiple networks but the swimming was incredibly high profile on ABC. I knew exactly when all of Spitz’ races would be and planned my day around them. In fact, some of my boyhood friends still kid me about it. Our backyard pool was the neighborhood gathering spot. We’d be out there for hours. But during Munich I’d announce that I had to go inside to watch Mark Spitz. Then I’d go back to the pool and describe his latest victory.

Prior to the tragedy, those Munch Games were known for Mark Spitz and Olga Korbut, who became a sensation and jumpstarted American interest in gymnastics. The leading sub characters were Valeri Borzov the Russian sprinter,… Read more »

Virgil Hilts
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

Very good summary. You’ve captured the spirit of the ‘72 Games (pre-tragedy) as presented through the ABC filter.

Last edited 1 month ago by Virgil Hilts
Walter
Reply to  Virgil Hilts
1 month ago

Agree.

David
1 month ago

If the 50 free was an event I’m sure it would’ve been 8/8

Walter
1 month ago

Goggles were not illegal. See David Wilkie.

ZH....
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

Wilkie… ’73 NCAAs snd 76 Olympics, not in Munich

Buster
Reply to  ZH....
1 month ago

There is a photo here https://www.gettyimages.fi/photos/david-wilkie?page=4 which says it is from the Munich games where you can see he is wearing goggles. There are another couple on the next page too. One from the 100 breast and one from the 200 IM (didn’t realise he swam that one there although he did get the world record in later years). The captions might be wrong I guess but I’m sure he wouldn’t have been happy having a ridiculous rule imposed on him when he’d been wearing goggles for years by then.

Last edited 1 month ago by Buster
ZH....
Reply to  Buster
1 month ago

Great images, look closely, they aren’t from Munich

Buster
Reply to  ZH....
1 month ago

Yes they are. Also I have his biography and it has photos from Munich. You can clearly see he is wearing goggles.

Oceanian
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

Wilkie swam without goggles in Munich except for training as they were only allowed in Olympic competition from 1976 when he won gold wearing them.

He wore them at the 1970 & 1974 Commonwealth Games as they had different rules.

Last edited 1 month ago by Oceanian
Gold Medal Mel
Reply to  Oceanian
1 month ago

Thx for the context on that.

Mediocre Swammer
Reply to  Oceanian
1 month ago

I have read that goggles were an important invention for swimming not (only or mostly) because you were faster when you wore them but that the swimmers were able to train longer when wearing them than without because they didn’t have to deal with the burning eyes.

Buster
Reply to  Oceanian
1 month ago

See my other post about photos of him wearing goggles in Munich. Also there are photos from Edinburgh in 1970 showing he didn’t wear goggles there.

cynthia curran
Reply to  Walter
1 month ago

They were use in practice not races since people thought they would fall out.

Tomek
1 month ago

The legend

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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