Mark Spitz and Debbie Meyer will forever be remembered as the swimmers who brought international recognition to Arden Hills through their success as record breaking, gold medal winning Olympic athletes from Sacramento.
At age six, Mark Spitz’ family moved to Sacramento, California, and he began to compete at his local swim club. At age nine, he was training at Arden Hills Swim Club in Sacramento with swimming coach Sherm Chavoor, who mentored seven Olympic medal winners including Spitz.
Spitz, who turned 69 years old earlier this week, would eventually set more than 30 world records, and win eight NCAA titles, five Pan American Games gold medals and 11 Olympic gold medals – nine gold, one silver and one bronze.
His greatest achievement in swimming occurred at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, where he won seven gold medals, and at the same time set seven world records.
Spitz’s then-record of seven individual medals in a single Olympics was held until 2008, when swimmer Michael Phelps won eight individual medals at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
>Sacramento Elite Swimmers
In speaking about Spitz’s success in the Olympics, Brett Favero, co-owner of Arden Hills, said, “Mark was so famous not only because of his accomplishments, but because when he accomplished what he did, it was the first time that the Olympics were completely televised. Bits and pieces (of the Olympics) were previously (televised), but that was the first time it was completely televised.
“So, when (Spitz) got home, he had no idea what had happened. He certainly knew what he had accomplished, but he had no idea, because that hadn’t been that big of a deal before. And it wasn’t until he actually got here (to Sacramento) and got off the plane that he realized how big it was.
Famous Mark Spitz Poster
“In fact, his poster, his big poster, you know they took a picture of him and his seven gold medals was somewhat taken in such a way that he didn’t really get anything out of that, because he had no idea, and it was done right there while he was still in Munich.”