Host City: München, West Germany
Date Started: August 28, 1972
Date Finished: September 4, 1972
Participants: 532 (287 men and 245 women) from 52 countries
Youngest Participant: Françoise Monod (13 years, 131 days)
Oldest Participant: Gudmunður Gíslason (31 years, 228 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Mark Spitz (7 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (43 medals)
The 1972 swimming events were held at the Schwimmhalle in München, which was built specifically for the 1972 Olympics. It continues to be used as a swim stadium, but its seating capacity has been reduced from the 9,000 available in 1972 to 1,500. The swim program had been greatly expanded at the past few Olympics, but there was no change in 1972, with the same 15 men’s events and 14 women’s events as in 1968.
The United States was dominant again in 1972, but a bit less so than in 1968, winning 17 of 29 gold medals and 43 of 87 medals. Their men were especially dominant, winning 9 of 15 golds and 26 of 45 medals. Their women won 8 of 14 golds and 17 of 42 medals, but Australian women also won 5 golds.
Two swimmers were the stars of the 1972 Olympics. American Mark Spitz set a goal to win seven gold medals in seven events, and he did so, also winning all of his events in world record time. His seven medals tied the Olympic mark in any sport for most medals at a single Olympics (held by five men), but his seven gold medals at one Games was a new record, broken only in 2008 by Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in eight events.
Australian Shane Gould was so heralded coming into München that the Americans wore tee-shirts proclaiming “All That Glitters Is Not Gould.” Coming into the 1972 Olympics Gould held world records at every freestyle distance from 100 to 1,500 metres. If anything her performance was slightly disappointing but she did win three gold medals and five medals.