Olympian Mark Spitz: True Stories Of Munich's Gold Medalist

By | September 6, 2018

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Mark Spitz, the United States swimming champion, swimming the butterfly stroke during a training session in 1972. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Olympic gold medalist Mark Spitz was the Michael Phelps of his day, a swimmer who crushed the competition in every race and earned a chest full of gold medals for it. Spitz's dominance at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich turned him into a celebrity, with his face on a box of Wheaties and his tanned, toned form on a pinup poster.

Mark Spitz's seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics was an individual record that stood until Phelps earned eight medals at the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. Spitz, with his impressive mustache, enjoyed a degree of popularity after the Olympics were over. While his achievements in the Olympic swimming pool are well-known, there are aspects of Mark Spitz’ life that you may not know. 

That Famous Mustache? It was Spitz’s way of Rebelling

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During the 1960s and 1970s, competitive swimmers removed all their body hair, believing that the hair created drag as they were swimming through the water. Smoother, hair-free bodies were sleeker and therefore, faster. But that didn’t stop Mark Spitz from growing his trademark mustache. Spitz admits that the only reason he grew his mustache was because one of his college swimming coaches told him he couldn’t. He added that sporting a mustache was his personal form of rebellion against the clean-cut norms expected of him in college.