Tuesday, August 4, 2009

THE GOLDEN SPITZ


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.
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At age 14, just as he was starting high school, Mark moved from Sacramento to Santa Clara to train with the great George Haines. He has left an indelible legacy here, and he continues to be the standard by which great swimmers are measured.
From 1964 to 1968 Mark trained with Haines at SCSC and Santa Clara High School. During his four years here, Mark held national high school records in every stroke and in every distance. It was a remarkable and unprecedented achievement.
In 1966 by age 16, Mark won his first National Championship in the 100 meter butterfly. This was the first of 24 AAU titles Mark would hold during his incredible swimming career.
The following year, 1967 Mark set his first world record at a small California meet, in the 400 meter freestyle, with a time of 4:10.60, and emerged on the world swimming stage. Later that same year, he won 5 gold medals at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg.
By 1968, at age 18, Mark held 26 National and International titles, and had set 36 National and International records.
(Copyright 2008 ~ Santa Clara Swim Club)


Swimmer, Mark Spitz-Santa Clara, California
Photographer: Bill Ray
© Time Inc hosted by Google


Swimmer, Mark Spitz-Santa Clara, California
Photographer: Bill Ray
© Time Inc hosted by Google


Swimmer, Mark Spitz-Santa Clara, California
Photographer: Bill Ray
© Time Inc hosted by Google


Mark Andrew Spitz (born 10 February 1950) won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, an achievement surpassed only by Michael Phelps who won eight golds at the 2008 Olympics.
Between 1968 and 1972, Spitz won nine Olympic golds plus a silver and a bronze, five Pan American golds, 31 US Amateur Athletic Union titles and eight US National Collegiate Athletic Association titles. During those years, he set 33 world records. He was named World Swimmer of the Year in 1969, 1971 and 1972.
In an era when other swimmers, male and female, were shaving body hair, he swam with a mustache. When asked why he initially grew one he stated "I grew the mustache because a coach in college said I couldn't grow one." Spitz said he originally grew the mustache as a form of rebellion against the clean-cut look imposed on him in college. “It took a long time to grow,” he said. It took four months to grow, but Spitz was proud of it, he decided the mustache was a "good-luck piece."
Mark Spitz was quoted as saying, "When I went to the Olympics, I had every intention of shaving the mustache off, but I realized I was getting so many comments about it—and everybody was talking about it—that I decided to keep it. I had some fun with a Russian coach who asked me if my mustache slowed me down. I said, 'No, as a matter of fact, it deflects water away from my nose, allows my rear end to rise and make me bullet-shaped in the water, and that's what had allowed me to swim so great.' He's translating as fast as he can for the other coaches, and the following year every Russian male swimmer had a mustache."
According to a Sports Illustrated article, on February 14, 1988, after talking about shaving off his mustache for a year, he finally did. "He looked great with it, don't get me wrong," explained his wife Suzy, "but he looks so handsome without it."
When he was asked why he shaved it off he responded "well, one, I'm not swimming anymore; two, it started to turn gray; and three, my wife had never seen me, nor my family, without the mustache... I'm happy [without it]." He also commented on his mustache in a live, in-studio interview with KCRA host Mike TeSelle on June 14, 2008, Spitz commented that he no longer maintains his iconic mustache because it had become "too gray."
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Mark Spitz circa 1972
Training for the 1972 Olympic Games
Photo by A. B. Duffy/Keystone/Getty Images
© copyright 1999-2009 Getty Images


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US Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz
Munich, Germany
September 1972
Photographer: Co Rentmeester
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Couples
From PEOPLE Magazine Copyright © 2009 Time Inc


After his Munich triumph, Spitz was bombarded with endorsement offers. He soon came to be known more as a good-looking, mustachioed pitchman than for his signature butterfly stroke. He made some $7 million in two years.
Despite the efforts of his agent and public-relations firm, his desired post-Olympics Hollywood career floundered as critics panned Spitz's performances on TV shows and commercials. It seemed he was criticized in his post-Olympic life as much as he was cheered. But controversy was nothing new. It surrounded Spitz almost from the time he plugged his nose and jumped in a pool.
Spitz received a hero's welcome at home. He quit swimming, shelved plans for dental school and sorted through his numerous endorsement offers. His agent said Spitz was the greatest hero since Lindbergh and one of two people whose name everyone in the U.S. knew (the other being President Nixon).
He signed Spitz as a spokesperson for the Schick Company, the California Milk Advisory Board, adidas, Speedo and countless other companies making everything from swimming pools to men's underwear. A poster featuring Spitz wearing his swimsuit and seven gold medals made him the hottest pin-up since Betty Grable.
Spitz amused himself with his new hobby: sailing. He eventually began a successful real-estate company in Beverly Hills.
People always asked him, "Do you still swim?" Remarkably, the answer most of the time was "no." But in 1989 at age 39, at 6-foot-1 and 182 pounds (eight pounds heavier and 17 years older than in 1972), he began training for the 1992 Olympic Trials.
His event was the 100-meter butterfly. Although his 1972 records had long been broken, he was encouraged because he had beaten then-record holder Rowdy Gaines in a series of races in 1984. In 1991, a mustache-less Spitz raced Olympians Tom Jager and Matt Biondi in separate 50-meter butterfly races on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Spitz lost both. He also failed to qualify for the 1992 Olympics. His best time was 58:03; he needed 55:59.
Spitz still lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He enjoys sailing and traveling. Having given up his real-estate business, he considers himself an "entrepreneur" and continues to do promotional work.
(Copyright ©2007 ESPN Internet Ventures)


Mark Spitz elected “1972 King of Sports”
A dinner in his honor on June 27, 1973
The Tippecanoe Lake Country Club
© 2001-2009 Lost Enterprises


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On the Cover: Mark Spitz, Swimming,
Photographed by: Heinz Kluetmeier
Copyright © 2008 Time Inc


THE GOLDEN SPITZ:
Here's how Mark Spitz won his seven gold medals in Munich in 1972. Times in parentheses are the clockings of the 1996 Olympic champions:
200-meter butterfly: Spitz broke his own world record by .83 seconds with a clocking of 2:00.77 (1:56.51).
400-meter freestyle relay: On the same night of his 200 butterfly triumph, Spitz anchored the U.S. team that included Dave Edgar, Jerry Heidenreich and John Murphy to a world record of 3:36.42 (3:15.41).
200-meter freestyle: Spitz came from behind in the final 50 meters to beat U.S. teammate Steve Genter with a world-record clocking of 1:52.78 (1:47.63).
100-meter butterfly: Spitz touched 1.29 seconds ahead of silver medalist Bruce Robertson of Canada with a world-record swim of 54.27 (52.27).
800-meter freestyle relay: Spitz anchored the team that included John Kinsella, Fred Tyler and Steve Genter to a world-record clocking of 7:35.78 (7:14.84).
100-meter freestyle: After his club coach talked him out of scratching this event, Spitz edged U.S. nemesis Jerry Heidenreich by .43 seconds and set a world record of 51.22 (48.74).
400-meter medley relay: Spitz swam the butterfly leg on the team that included Mike Stamm, Tom Bruce and Jerry Heidenreich and set a world record of 3:45.16 (3:34.84).
(COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News)


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