A disappointing start
With ten world records already under his belt, Spitz was expected to win six golds at Mexico City 1968. However, this prediction backfired when he managed to take home just two gold medals, both in Relay events. Although he also came third in the 100m Freestyle and second in the 100m Butterfly, the Games were without doubt a disappointment for such a talented athlete.
And so to Munich 1972, where 22-year-old Spitz was determined to make up for his below-par performances four years earlier.
He did not disappoint. Over a period of eight days, Spitz entered seven events, winning them all and setting world records in every one. He took both Freestyle Sprint titles – over 100 and 200m – together with the Butterfly stroke at these distances. He also won three Relay medals, in the 4 x 100m Medley, the 4 x 100m Freestyle and the 4 x 200m Freestyle.
Perhaps aware that topping such an achievement would prove virtually impossible, Spitz retired after the Games, going on to become a successful businessman.
Twenty years on from his glory in Munich, Spitz challenged for a place in the American Olympic team at the Barcelona 1992 Games. However, with the sport changing almost beyond recognition, he was unable to cope with the new high standards and failed to make the times required in the trials.
Spitz remains one of only five Olympians to win a total of nine medals, with his absolute domination in the pool at Munich 1972 ensuring he has gone down as one of the greatest swimmers in Games history.