You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

February 10: The Swimmer

February 10, 2015

6a00e551962103883300e55419aa128834-800wiOlympic champion Mark Spitz, who won seven gold swimming medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, a record achievement that held until Michael Phelps won eight in 2008, was born in Modesto, California on this date in 1950. Spitz set new world records in all seven events in which he won the gold, a record that still stands. His athletic accomplishment was overshadowed, of course, by the killing of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches (and a German police officer) by Palestinian terrorists with the Black September group. Spitz, who retired from swimming at 22, made a fortune for commercial endorsements over the two years that followed his Olympic performance, then had a spotty career in media and as a motivational speaker. He is one of five Olympians to win nine or more career gold medals; only Phelps, with a phenomenal eighteen, has more. To see Spitz setting world records, look below.

“Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympic athlete ever.” —Mark Spitz