Coached by his father that swimming isn't everything - winning is - Mark Spitz bagged an unprecedented seven gold medals, all in world-record times, at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. With that performance, he overcame his early reputation as a wasteland of swimming talent and established himself as one of the greatest swimmers of all time.
Four years earlier, at the Mexico City Olympics, Mr. Spitz won two team golds, a silver, and a bronze for an Olympic tally of 11 medals, a record he shares with fellow American swimmer, Matt Biondi.
Sixteen years after retiring, Spitz launched a bid for a place on the US swim team for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, competing against athletes half his age. He failed.
Today, Spitz does a lot of travelling as a motivational speaker - a profession that is growing in popularity among retired athletes. He is also a spokesman for SmarTalk, a prepaid calling card based in California. And he has produced infomercials for a wide range of products from skin care to exercise equipment.
As a swimmer, Spitz is making a different kind of comeback. The once-reputed practice slacker swims regularly and has joined the UCLA Masters swim team that competes in the senior circuit of swimming.
The winner of the 1971 Sullivan Award as the nation's most outstanding amateur athlete, Spitz was recently honored with 99 other "Golden Olympians" in Indianapolis. Later this year in Washington, Spitz will play host to 10 children who won a "What the Olympics Means To Me Contest."
Spitz resides in Holmby Hills, Calif., with his wife, Susan, and their two sons.