In 1972, Mark Spitz, at 22 took center stage in the Olympics. There are few sports that allow an athlete the possibility of turning multiple gold medals; swimming is the only event that would allow anyone to set the record Mark did. He won an astonishing 7 Gold Medals. Three of his medals came in relays. All were world records.
His record stood for 36 years, and it took a miraculous Olympics for the US swim team combined with one of the most amazing swimming athletes of all time to break that record.
Michael Phelps won 8 Gold Medals to pass Spitz for a new record. Michael, as was the case with Spitz, had to turn to teammates in three relay events to win!! One of them was a shocker in the 4x100M Freestyle Relay.
We have many of these shining moments highlighted on our website. And guess what? Every event, every single event was a new world record!! Every one!!! Michael had passed Spitz in total world records in a single Olympics as well.
Here is a table of the results:
It is not fair to compare the times one on one, other than to show how far athletes have come setting world records over the last 36 years. But it is phenomenal the amount of skill, preparation and luck that went into both records. Michael won the 4×100 Meter Freestyle as a team member and that team barely pulled it out against the French Braggart Bernard thanks to a leg by Michael’s hero of the Olympics Jason Lezak. Michael also won the 100 Meter Individual Butterfly by 1/100 of a second, winning by a finger nail!
Who is the best?
We can’t say. Both are great. Let’s see how long Michael holds onto his record!!