In 2004, American Mark Spitz was still considered the greatest swimmer of all-time. Fellow American Michael Phelps would eventually claim that title years later when he won eight golds at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In July of 2004, Spitz visited the Montclair YMCA to conduct a clinic.
Spitz is a nine-time Olympic champion and former world record-holder in 7 events. He won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. Spitz set new world records in all seven events in which he competed in 1972.
Spitz told WBGO's Doug Doyle he has a positive message for kids.
"I'm trying to encourage them to take one day at a time, set your goals high but not too high that you can't attain them."
All of the kids swimming there that day weren't even born when Spitz became a legend in the pool. Spitz can relate to young swimmers. He sets 17 national records at the age of 10. He says parents and youngsters need to realize there is a lot of water ahead if you have Olympic dreams.
"My sport, it doesn't matter what you think, it's what the stopwatch says. The truth of the matter is if you're swimming and doing great and breaking records as age group swimmer then you can look forward to being a senior swimmer. When you're a senior swimmer, getting into the finals and then moving into the ranks of getting a medal and maybe getting a first place. Then going on and setting goals of being an American record holder and maybe a world record holder, going to the World Championships, The Pan Am Games and going to the Olympic Games. The process is exactly what I just explained. That's sort of happened to me. Anything short of that and you're just kidding yourself."
When Spitz was asked what he liked most about swimming, his answer was simple...."Winning."
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