I tricked Russian swimmers into growing moustaches with cheeky fib about making you go faster, says icon Mark Spitz | The Sun
SWIMMING icon Mark Spitz tricked his Russian counterparts into growing moustaches with a cheeky fib about facial hair.
Spitz is one of Olympic swimming's all-time greats and is most well-known for his dazzling performances at the 1972 Olympic games.
Spitz won a staggering seven gold medals at that year's Munich games, doing so with world record-breaking times for each event.
This stunning achievement held for nearly 40 years until compatriot Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing games.
In an interview with The Times, Spitz revealed how he tricked his opponents into growing moustaches.
He said: "I went to the Olympic trials and everyone was talking about the moustache, so I said, ‘I’m not shaving it off.’
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"I had intentions (of shaving) when I went to Munich, but then I went to the swimming pool for one last training session.
"I wasn’t supposed to be there, because we’d used up our quota of sessions, and the Russians were there, but they said I could use the outside lane.
“When I got out of the pool, the Russian coach asked whether my moustache slowed me down.
"I said, ‘No, it deflects the water from my mouth, that’s why I broke the world record a few weeks ago. I’m not shaving it off.’
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"The next year, I had to smile when I saw that all the Russian male swimmers had moustaches. Even though I’d decided I was going to shave it off in Munich, I decided just to go with it. And I’m glad I did.”
Despite the instant recognition the tache gave him, Spitz revealed he had not had a moustache since 1988, but did grow a goatee during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Spitz, now 72, remains a keen observer of swimming and noted some of the facial hair adopted by Team Great Britain's own Adam Peaty.
He added: "I’ve been following his career and he’s just great."
"You’ve had some great breaststrokers in Britain. Just after my time, there was David Wilkie, who broke a world record (in 1973).
"I take my hat off to Adam, especially now he has a child. He’s swimming and competing with that responsibility as well.”
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Spitz retired from Olympic swimming at the age of 22, instead opting to cash in on his success with endorsement deals – which meant athletes at the time were banned from competing at the Olympics.
This was due to rules which stated athletes with endorsements were professional, which was not allowed at the time with professionalism at the games not sanctioned until the late 80s.
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