“I look kind of mean and aggressive looking,” Spitz said of the mesmerising photograph above. “Not mean in a personality way, but powerful.”
For the modern viewer, the lack of goggles, let alone a swimming cap, is one of the most immediately striking aspects of the image; that and the fact that it looks like the nine-time Olympic champion (he also won two golds at the Mexico City 1968 Games) swam with his eyes closed.
“My eyes were always open, I think it’s an illusion,” he protested with a laugh. As for no goggles, it equalled no problem. “We swam without goggles and we did just fine,” he said with an air of finality. “Since that time I have swum with goggles and I find that my head position is strange, a little different.”