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Swimming at the 1972 München Summer Games:

Men's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay

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Host City: München, West Germany
Venue(s): Swimming Hall, Olympic Park, München
Date Started: September 4, 1972
Date Finished: September 4, 1972

Gold: USA United States
Silver: GDR East Germany
Bronze: CAN Canada

Summary

This was the final swimming event of the 1972 Olympics. Mark Spitz was to swim the butterfly leg, the third leg, for the American team in the final. He had already won six gold medals in Munich, having won the 100 freestyle the day before. The United States’ team was the overwhelming favorite and the only way they could lose, it was thought, was to false start or take off early on an exchange. Unsurprisingly, however, East Germany led on the opening backstroke leg, as Roland Matthes, the top backstroker in the world, set a world 100 metre backstroke record with 56.30, as American Mike Stamm was 1.67 seconds back in second place. But Tom Bruce made up the margin on the breaststroke leg, giving Spitz a slight lead, as he and East German Hartmut Flöckner started the butterfly leg almost together. So much for that race. Spitz beat Flöckner by over two seconds in the butterfly, and anchor freestyler Jerry Heidenreich poured it on for the US, winning for four seconds over East Germany in a world record 3:48.16.

For Mark Spitz it had been a pretty good Olympics. Seven events. Seven gold medals. Seven world records. His Olympic total from 1968 and 1972 increased to 11 Olympic medals and 9 gold medals. The day after the medley relay, Palestine terrorists from the Black September group would attack the Israeli Olympic team in the Olympic Village, eventually killing 11 of them. The Olympics and world sport would never be the same. Mark Spitz was Jewish and quickly left Munich, fearing for his fame and his heritage.

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 United States USA Gold WR
2 East Germany GDR Silver
3 Canada CAN Bronze
4 Soviet Union URS
5 Brazil BRA
6 Japan JPN
7 Great Britain GBR
8 Hungary HUN
3 h3 r1/2 Australia AUS
4 h1 r1/2 France FRA
4 h2 r1/2 West Germany FRG
4 h3 r1/2 Sweden SWE
5 h1 r1/2 Mexico MEX
5 h2 r1/2 Spain ESP
5 h3 r1/2 Poland POL
6 h2 r1/2 Philippines PHI
6 h3 r1/2 Cambodia CAM