Phelps' Winning Personality Separates Him From Spitz

Golden-boy swimmers are only similar in the pool
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2008 7:02 AM CDT
US teammates Jerry Heidenreich and Tom Bruce carry Mark Spitz on their shoulders in 1972 after he won the gold medal in the 4x100-meter medley swim.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Michael Phelps has passed Mark Spitz's record number of career gold medals, and is dead set on eclipsing the seven golds Spitz won in Munich in 1972. But apart from their metal preferences the two men are very different people, observes the New York Times. The detached Spitz matched his talent with cockiness that annoyed teammates and was accused of mind games—while Phelps is sociable and popular.

"I just don’t believe in this guy at all," said a teammate Spitz had tried to talk out of the 200-meter freestyle in Munich—and beaten. "Nothing would have pleased me more than to beat him, but I just couldn’t do it.” Phelps has said his goal is not to become the second Spitz, declaring: "I want to be the first Michael Phelps.”