Her casual air was not always shared by Australian officials, who hovered around her, allowing her to speak only to chosen newsmen, then scrupulously monitoring every word to guard against anybody asking a meaningful question. Those arrangements were frustrated, however, when Shane, who has studied German in high school, chatted charmingly in that language with local reporters while her Aussie chaperone, helplessly monolingual, sat gloomily by. In the dining room, Shane met some rival U.S. freestylers but was spared the sight of the T shirts owned by the U.S. women, which were imprinted ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOULD. Two of the Americans, Jenny Kemp and Keena Rothhammer, were sleeping in the T shirts, but they obeyed orders to refrain from wearing them in public, for fear "that it might make Shane mad."
If either Gould or Spitz goes home with even five golds, it will equal Paavo Nurmi's 1924 record for the biggest hoard in a single Olympics. The fact that both went into the games with a chance to win seven medals lent fuel to a proposal being considered by the International Olympic Committee to eliminate eight events from swimming competition in the future, the rationale being that some races involved virtual duplication of skills.
The idea was supported by the Soviet Union, a nation of modest aquatic achievement, and opposed by the sport's superpowers, Australia and the U.S. It was true that when compared to, say, track and field, the talent in swimming did seem rather concentrated. For example, only four U.S. track athletes were entered in two individual events. But 19 American swimmers were in at least two individual events, five were in three, and Spitz was in four. And this did not include the relay races.
None of this is to deny the genuine talents of Spitz, who grew up trying to cope with a precocity that produced 10 world records before he had enrolled in college. Although his current records are in freestyle sprints and butterfly, he showed his earliest promise as a distance swimmer, coming within two-tenths of a second of the 1,500-meter record when he was 16. At an exhibition meet two weeks ago at the U.S. pre-Olympic training camp, he entered the 50-yard backstroke as a lark and defeated Mitch Ivey and Mike Stamm, the leading American backstrokers. He is weakest in the breaststroke, in which he merely made high school All-America.
By contrast with Australia's Wenden, a bigger man who churns through the water, Spitz seems to glide with great economy. Long of upper arm and curiously possessed of the ability to flex his legs forward at the knees, Spitz is one of those rare swimmers—Shane Gould is another—who inspires coaches to talk themselves silly about man's harmony with the elements. "Mark's so loose and long-muscled," Chavoor says. "The way he slips through the water is simply mystifying."
Spitz has managed to stay on top of his sport for five years now, and his determination has been equally evident outside the pool. When he enrolled at Indiana, detractors predicted he would not get along with his new teammates, yet he adjusted well enough, with the help of his coach, James E. (Doc) Counsilman, to be elected a co-captain of last season's team. When Spitz decided at 17 that he was meant to fix teeth in this life, the same people claimed that he lacked the requisite intelligence. He compiled a respectable 2.7 grade point average in college, and his acceptance at dental school came through the same day he received the Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete.
With the notable exception of Mexico, Spitz has backed up his brashest pronouncements with deeds. When Frank Heckl of USC won six gold medals at last year's Pan-American Games, Spitz, who along with other U.S. stars had passed up the competition, scoffed. "They threw a war and nobody came," he said. He had withering words, too, for University of Tennessee freestyler Dave Edgar, to whom he regularly lost at NCAA meets largely because Edgar is strong on turns, which take on greater importance in short-course college pools than in 50-meter Olympic facilities. Asked about Edgar's prospects at the Olympic Trials in Chicago, Spitz said, "This is swimming, not turns." Heckl failed to make the U.S. team, and Edgar, though qualifying for Munich in the 100 butterfly and the 400 freestyle relay, lost to Spitz in two events.
As Olympic teammates, Edgar and Spitz have since become friendly, and the Tennessee star says, "I like Mark. He talks a lot about himself, but how can you blame him? That's all people ever asked him." Somewhat closer was Spitz' relationship with his old Indiana teammate, Gary Hall. Spitz professes to be pained because Hall receives less publicity than himself, and when somebody asked him for an autograph and then tried to use Hall's back as a writing board, Spitz balked. "Gary must've really liked that" he said indignantly later on.
Hall, for his part, took a protective attitude toward Spitz. "Mark says what he means, and I respect that," he said. "Of course, sometimes he ought to watch who he says it to." Walking in the Olympic Village, the two swimmers passed Tim Dement, the boxer who made the U.S. team after defeating convict Bobby Hunter. Spitz, who felt strongly that Hunter should not have been allowed in the Olympics in any case, cried out, "I ought to kiss that guy." This earned a gentle reprimand from Hall, who said, "Now, Mark...." Later, as they took in other Olympic sights, including the giant tent roof, the artificial lake and the usual passing procession of M�dchen, Spitz said excitedly. "God, this place is like Disneyland! I'm going bananas here." Hall laughed and said, "Yeah, but we've got to remember what we're here for."
Spitz was only slightly more subdued when, suffering from a mild cold, he went for dinner at Humplmayr, a well-known Munich restaurant, with Chavoor and Peter Daland, the U.S. men's coach. Spitz talked about his affliction much of the evening. "I wonder whether I'm ever going to drop this stupid cold," he said at one point. Later he asked, "Why am I so sleepy? Do you think it's the cold?" At another moment, addressing Chavoor, he said, "You know something about those antibiotics I took? They made me dizzy."