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Matt Biondi Biography

Collegiate Champion, Olympic Pressures, The '88 Games, In And Out Of Retirement, Out Of The Pool


American swimmer

Matt Biondi is one of the greatest competitive swimmers in history. Over the course of his career, he earned dozens of national, international, and collegiate titles and set twelve world records. He reached his zenith at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, where he won seven medals to tie the record set by swimming legend Mark Spitz in 1972. Biondi, Spitz, and shooter Carl Osburn are the only U.S. athletes to win eleven Olympic medals overall. Biondi also was the first swimmer ever to win seven medals at a World Championship tournament, and he and Tom Jager were the first American swimmers to capture gold in three Olympiads. While attending the University of California—Berkeley, Biondi became the first swimmer in more than a half-century to sweep the 50, 100, and 200-yard freestyle races in the NCAA Championships. He repeated the feat a year later—another first. "He has the ability to feel the water, much like an artist feels the canvas and a pianist feels the keys," said Nort Thornton, Biondi's coach at UC Berkeley. "Those are things you just don't teach people."

Sketch by David Wilkins

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Famous Sports StarsSwimming