Mark Spitz Biography
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Mark Andrew Spitz
Famous as: Swimmer
Spouse/Ex-: Suzy Weiner (m. 1973)
father: Arnold Spitz
mother: Lenore Spitz
children: Justin, Matthew
awards: 1971 - James E. Sullivan Award
1972 - Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
1972; 1971; 1969 - Swimming World Swimmers of the Year
Mark Spitz is an American former competition swimmer who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, a record that stood for over three decades before being broken by Michael Phelps, who won eight golds at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. His achievement of setting new world records in all seven events in which he competed in 1972 still stands. A child prodigy, he took to swimming in the ocean as a toddler and was already competing at his local swim club by the time he was six. He soon began training with the legendary swimming coach Sherm Chavoor under whose guidance he went on to achieve 17 national age-group records and one world record even before he turned ten. As a young teenager, he held national high school records in every stroke and in every distance and participated in his first international competition, the Maccabiah Games in 1965, when he was 15. His rising image as a world class swimmer grew steadily as he proceeded to win five gold medals at the 1967 Pan American Games. He enjoyed even greater success at the Olympic Games, winning seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich in addition to the two he won at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Following his retirement from competitive swimming he became a corporate spokesperson and motivational speaker.
- Mark Andrew Spitz was born on February 10, 1950, in Modesto, California, as the first of three children of Arnold and Lenore (Smith) Spitz. His father worked as an executive with a steel company.
- Born with a love for water, he started swimming as a toddler under the guidance of his father. As a little boy he joined the Arden Hills Swim Club in Sacramento with swimming coach Sherm Chavoor and competed at his local swim club.
- He proved to be a child prodigy and created 17 national age-group records and one world record even before he turned ten. At the age of 14 he trained with coach George F. Haines of the Santa Clara Swim Club.
- He attended Santa Clara High School from 1964 to 1968, and during his four years there, he held national high school records in every stroke and in every distance.
- In 1965, he participated in his first international completion—the Maccabiah Games—where he won four gold medals and was named the most outstanding athlete.
- In 1966 he won the 100 meter butterfly at the AAU national championships, at the age of 16. He then won five gold medals at the 1967 Pan American Games, a world record at that time.
- He trained hard for the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City and proudly predicted that he would win six gold medals. However, his performance was not so stellar and he managed to win only two team gold medals: the 4×100 meter freestyle relay and the 4×200 meter freestyle relay. He also won a silver in the 100 meter butterfly and bronze in the 100 meter freestyle.
- Disappointed by his Olympic experience, the determined young man joined the Indiana University in 1968 as a pre-dental student, primarily to train under legendary Indiana Hoosiers swimming coach Doc Counsilman. Mark Spitz improved his form greatly under Counsilman’s training and was better prepared by the time for the 1972 Olympics.
- Spitz created history at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich by winning seven Olympic gold medals across individual and team competitions and by creating a new world record in each of the seven events. By doing so, he surpassed his own prediction of winning six gold medals.
- His Olympic achievements made him a sporting superstar but the young man announced his retirement soon after. Aged just 22, he left competitive swimming to focus on other career options. A highly popular sporting icon, he managed to get lucrative commercial opportunities and had earned $6 million through endorsements and other deals by 1974.
- With time his popularity began to fade and he started exploring other avenues. Young, good looking and famous, he tried to venture into show business. In 1973–74, Spitz appeared on TV's ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’ and ‘The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.’ He also appeared in a number of Schick razors commercials.
- He started working for ABC Sports in 1976 and worked on many sports presentations, including coverage of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
- After a few years as a broadcaster, he focused on real estate business. Over the years he pursued various entrepreneurial projects with former NBA player Rick Barry and has also found considerable success as a motivational speaker.
- Mark Spitz won the World Swimmer of the Year award from ‘Swimming World’ magazine in 1967, 1971 and 1972.
- In 1971 he won the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.
- In 1972, he was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year in swimming.
- He is an inductee of International Swimming Hall of Fame (1977), International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (1979), and United States Olympic Hall of Fame (1983).
- He dated Suzy Weiner, a UCLA theater student and part-time model, for a while before marrying her in 1973. The couple has two sons, Matthew and Justin.
- This nine-time Olympic swimming champion once sported a famous moustache, considered his trademark.
- This multiple Olympic gold winning swimmer was nicknamed "Mark the Shark" by his teammates.
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