There’s nothing like a living legend. And with the Olympics ramping up, we thought we’d pay tribute to nine-time Olympic gold medalist and ’70s poster boy Mark Spitz.

In today’s era of swimming, it’s all about drag-reducing sleekness—rubber caps, shaving from head to toe, shark-skin-inspired swimsuits—so it’s surprising to look back at photos of Spitz’s record-shattering run at the 1972 Games in Munich and see him dominate the field with a mop-top of hair and mustache. There’s something mystical about his confidence and unwillingness to sacrifice his personal style in hopes of shaving off a few tenths of a second on his times. It’s a ’70s swagger that he carried throughout his youth (sadly, he recently ditched the ’stache) and we’d like to applaud it.

So, without further ado, an appreciation of one of the greatest Olympians to ever don the red, white and blue, in six iconic photos.

—N.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Najib Benouar