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Swimming at the 1972 München Summer Games

1972 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: München, West Germany
Date Started: August 28, 1972
Date Finished: September 4, 1972
Events: 29

Participants: 532 (287 men and 245 women) from 52 countries
Youngest Participant: SUI Françoise Monod (13 years, 131 days)
Oldest Participant: ISL Gudmunður Gíslason (31 years, 228 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): USA Mark Spitz (7 medals)
Most Medals (Country): USA 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.


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men's 100 metres Freestyle USA Mark Spitz USA Jerry Heidenreich URS Vladimir Bure
Men's 200 metres Freestyle USA Mark Spitz USA Steve Genter FRG Werner Lampe
Men's 400 metres Freestyle AUS Brad Cooper USA Steve Genter USA Tom McBreen
Men's 1,500 metres Freestyle USA Mike Burton AUS Graham Windeatt USA Doug Northway
Men's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States URS Soviet Union GDR East Germany
Men's 4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States FRG West Germany URS Soviet Union
Men's 100 metres Backstroke GDR Roland Matthes USA Mike Stamm USA John Murphy
Men's 200 metres Backstroke GDR Roland Matthes USA Mike Stamm USA Mitch Ivey
Men's 100 metres Breaststroke JPN Nobutaka Taguchi USA Tom Bruce USA John Hencken
Men's 200 metres Breaststroke USA John Hencken GBR David Wilkie JPN Nobutaka Taguchi
Men's 100 metres Butterfly USA Mark Spitz CAN Bruce Robertson USA Jerry Heidenreich
Men's 200 metres Butterfly USA Mark Spitz USA Gary Hall USA Robin Backhaus
Men's 200 metres Individual Medley SWE Gunnar Larsson USA Tim McKee USA Steve Furniss
Men's 400 metres Individual Medley SWE Gunnar Larsson USA Tim McKee HUN András Hargitay
Men's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay USA United States GDR East Germany CAN Canada
Women's 100 metres Freestyle USA Sandy Neilson USA Shirley Babashoff AUS Shane Gould
Women's 200 metres Freestyle AUS Shane Gould USA Shirley Babashoff USA Keena Rothhammer
Women's 400 metres Freestyle AUS Shane Gould ITA Novella Calligaris GDR Gudrun Wegner
Women's 800 metres Freestyle USA Keena Rothhammer AUS Shane Gould ITA Novella Calligaris
Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States GDR East Germany FRG West Germany
Women's 100 metres Backstroke USA Melissa Belote HUN Andrea Gyarmati USA Susie Atwood
Women's 200 metres Backstroke USA Melissa Belote USA Susie Atwood CAN Donna-Marie Gurr
Women's 100 metres Breaststroke USA Cathy Carr URS Halyna Prozumenshchykova-Stepanova AUS Beverley Whitfield
Women's 200 metres Breaststroke AUS Beverley Whitfield USA Dana Schoenfield URS Halyna Prozumenshchykova-Stepanova
Women's 100 metres Butterfly JPN Mayumi Aoki GDR Roswitha Beier HUN Andrea Gyarmati
Women's 200 metres Butterfly USA Karen Moe-Thornton USA Lynn Colella USA Ellie Daniel
Women's 200 metres Individual Medley AUS Shane Gould GDR Kornelia Ender USA Lynn Vidali
Women's 400 metres Individual Medley AUS Gail Neall CAN Leslie Cliff ITA Novella Calligaris
Women's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay USA United States GDR East Germany FRG West Germany