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Mark Andrew Spitz


Mark Andrew Spitz (born 10 February 1950) is a retired American swimmer. He 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.

Spitz was born in Modesto, California, the first of three children of Arnold and Lenore Smith Spitz, an American father and Puerto Rican mother, who were Jewish. When he was two years old, Spitz’s family moved to Hawaii where he swam at Waikiki Beach every day. “You should have seen that little boy dash into the ocean. He’d run like he was trying to commit suicide.” Lenore Spitz told a reporter for TIME (April 12, 1968). At age six his family returned to Sacramento, California, and he began to compete at his local swim club. At age nine, he was training at Arden Hills Swim Club in Sacramento with Sherm Chavoor, the swimming coach who mentored him and six other Olympic medal winners.

Before he was 10, Spitz held 17 national age-group records, and one world record. At 14, his family moved to Santa Clara so Spitz could train with George F. Haines of the Santa Clara Swim Club. From 1964 to 1968 Mark trained with Haines at SCSC and Santa Clara High School. During his four years there, Mark held national high school records in every stroke and in every distance[citation needed]. It was a remarkable and unprecedented achievement. In 1966, at 16, he won the 100 meter butterfly at the National AAU Championships, the first of his 24 AAU titles. 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.

Family life

When Spitz returned from the Olympics, he began dating the daughter of one of his father’s business acquaintances after seeing her picture. Suzy was a tougher sell. “She was disinterested,” Spitz says. Less than a year after Munich, Spitz and Suzy Weiner, a UCLA theater student and part-time model, were married on May 6, 1973. They were married in a traditional Jewish service at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They have two sons, Matthew (born October 1981) and Justin (born September 1991).


From 1964 to 1968 Mark attended the Santa Clara High School. After graduating he went on to Indiana University.

At Indiana University from 1968-72, he was a pre-dental student and member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. Time Magazine asked him if he wanted to return to dental school after the Olympics. “I always wanted to be a dentist from the time I was in high school, and I was accepted to dental school in the spring of 1972. I was planning to go, but after the Olympics there were other opportunities. I did some television and speaking engagements, and things just went from there.”

Mark Spitz is frequently erroneously referred to as a dentist. According to the Indiana University School of Dentistry, Mark Spitz was planning on attending in the fall of 1972, but instead he moved to California. In 2006, Spitz sued Procter & Gamble as they failed to receive permission to include him in a promotional ‘History of Dentistry’ poster for Crest. He was quoted in the Chicago Tribune in June, 2004 saying, ??I??m probably the most famous dentist who never became a dentist in the world.?






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