Mark Andrew Spitz is a retired American athlete who is most known for winning 7 Olympic gold medals, a record that was unsurpassed until Michael Phelps’ rally in the 2008 Olympics. He is also one of the few Olympians who has won 9 or more Olympic gold medals.
Spitz started swimming at the very young age. His mother once commented that seeing her son go into the water was like seeing someone wanting to commit suicide. When he was 6 years old, he begun competing in local competitions. In 1967, he was brought into the world stage when he set his first record after swimming a 400 meter length at 4:10:60. Before that, his parents had already moved him and the rest of their family to Santa Clara so that the young swimmer could train with George F. Haines.
In 1967, Spitz competed in the Maccabiah Games and won four gold medals. He was 15 at that time. He returned in 1969 and won 6 gold medals. Spitz was also a competitor at the Pan American Games. In 1967, he established a record of winning 5 gold medals at the event. That record remained unbroken until 2007.
When he was 18, Spitz competed in the Olympics held in Mexico City. Before going into the games, he announced that he would take home 6 gold medals. He failed to do so and won only two Gold medals. Disheartened, he attended the Indiana University so he could train under Doc Counsilman. While at university he won several NCAA titles.
In the 1972 Olympics held in Munich, Spitz came and set the bid that he would win 6 gold medals. He went home with 7. He was pulled from the Olympic early because of safety issues. He had already finished his events when he was brought home.
Spitz has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the United States Olympic Hall of Fame and the National Jewish Museum Sports Hall of Fame. He is also part of the Indiana University Hall of Fame and the Long Beach City College Hall of Fame.