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Biofile Mark Spitz Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: All-time Olympic legend who won seven gold medals in swimming events in 1972 at Munich, Germany.

DOB: February 10, 1950 In: Modesto, CA

Childhood Hero: “Johnny Unitas.”

Nickname: “Speedy Gonzalez, Mark The Pool Shark.”

Hobbies: “Sailing. Skiing. Collecting art.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “My greatest sports moment? Or a greatest sports moment? (Whatever comes to mind.) Winning the 100-meter freestyle in the Olympic Games in 1972. Because that was known as the speed event, the glamour event…the fastest man in the world event. I could have won nine gold medals, but if I didn’t win that gold, then somebody else would have been declared the ‘Fastest swimmer in the world.’ (Was it a close race?) Not really [laughs], but it was the last individual event. And it was my sixth gold medal. So, I’d already been spent. I’d already been swimming for like seven days.”

Most Painful Moment: “Losing the 100-meter butterfly at the Olympic Games in Mexico City (’68)…which was the reason I won seven (gold medals) four years later. That one race cost me a position on the relay which went on to win a gold medal. So I lost two gold medals. And then I was just heart-broken. And I just blew the 200 butterfly. So it was a three gold medal race thing that turned into a disaster. I got a silver medal and nothing else.”

Pre-Race Feeling: “I really didn’t have much feeling before a race. I had my gameplan so well mapped out that I just kind of thought about other things…like girls probably, what else?!”

Favorite Movies: “Ben-Hur, the chariot race. I like Titanic.”

Musical Tastes: “I like classical, Beethoven, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.”

Funny Racing Memory: “I think I was nine-years-old. I started out in lane three and finished in lane four. It was night time swimming and the lights were terrible. I didn’t get disqualified because I didn’t interfere with the other person (in Sacramento).”

Favorite Meal: “Prime rib.”

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Oatmeal with dark brown sugar.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Jamoca almond fudge.”

First Job: “Warehouse man for Levitz Furniture in Santa Clara in the summer of 1968 (Age 18).”

Toughest Competitors: “A guy named Jerry Heidenreich and Doug Russell. Doug Russell beat me in the Olympic Games for the gold medal for the 100-meter butterfly (’68). He was the reason why I kept on going for four more years. And Jerry Heidenreich was swimming in the 100 and 200 butterfly. He was a 200-meter freestyler. And he was the one who was knocking at the door to beat me in every race.”

Childhood Dream: “I was gonna be a dentist. And I went to dentist school. But I didn’t finish. I was making too much money and I was having too much fun and I was too young to realize the difference. But I don’t regret it, go with the flow.”

Favorite Athletes To Watch: “Michael Jordan – I had a chance to watch him in-person several times with my two boys. Football. Sampras. ESPN highlights.”

Family: Wife, Suzie; sons, Justin, Matthew.

People Quality Most Admired: “Integrity.”

Mark Spitz at 1972 Olympics

About Mark Malinowski

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