his father would say, "how many lanes in a pool?"
youngster would reply.
"And how many
Today Arnold Spitz
wants nobody to be mistaken about the importance of the role he and his wife
Lenore played in Mark's development, but nothing disturbs him quite so much as
the criticism that he pushed his son too hard.
motivating factor in Mark's life has been Lenore and myself," Arnold Spitz
said recently. "If George Haines is naive enough or foolish enough to think
he created Mark, he's crazy. Because of what I've given of myself, this is what
I created. He's a gorgeous human being, he's a beautiful person, it's terrible.
You think this just happens? I've got my life tied up in this kid. You think I
created a monster? He's beautiful, he's exceptional. There is nothing wrong
with parents giving to their children. If people don't like it, the hell with
'em. You only have a few years to give, and now, in Mark's case, it's past, he
won't come home any more. Now he is being taken over by himself and the others
he is surrounding himself with, like Doc.
"There was a
point when I pushed him, I guess, but if I hadn't pushed my son he would never
have been at Santa Clara. If I pushed Mark, it was part of his development—and
you know why I pushed him? Because he was so great, that's why. I can't believe
any parent would say, 'Honey, if you're tired, you don't have to go to
workout.' A child who has his parents behind him can govern his time, know
there's a time to work and a time to play. If the parent isn't behind the
child, there can be nothing outstanding, and it's not really a sacrifice. It's
children are never really outstanding, you can get the same satisfaction—you
can say that, I guess, but you don't really believe it. Swimming isn't
everything, winning is. Who plays to lose? I'm not out to lose. I never said to
him, 'You're second, that's great.' I told him I didn't care about winning
age-groups, I care for world records."
flourished at Arden Hills, but in 1961 the family moved to Walnut Creek,
Calif., near Oakland, where he bounced ineffectually from one age-group program
to another. Alarmed, Arnold Spitz consulted Chavoor, who recommended that Mark
be taken to George Haines at Santa Clara. In February 1964, he began swimming
"That was the
turning point in my life," Mark says. "That was the point where I
really went into swimming for a business, where I decided that I wanted to be
good, to be somebody."