Indy Star Feature Examines Era When Indiana University Swimmers Owned Nine of 12 World Records

19th April 1978: Mark Spitz who won seven gold medals for swimming in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. (Photo by Graham Morris/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Indy Star Feature Examines Era When Indiana University Swimmers Owned Nine of 12 World Records

Trips through time are a great way to generate an appreciation for the past, and to educate younger generations on historic accomplishments that came before their years. Last week, award-winning Indianapolis Star writer David Woods produced one of those back-in-time pieces when he revisited a unique era in the history of Indiana University swimming.

In an article than can be found here and is highly recommended, Woods took a look at a 19-day window in the summer of 1970 in which Indiana University swimmers held nine of the 12 world records on the books. The standards belonged to Mark Spitz, John Kinsella, Gary Hall Sr. and Mike Stamm. At the time, Indiana was coached by the Legendary James “Doc” Counsilman, and Woods points out that against the rest of the world, Indiana held a 9-3 advantage in world records.

The notion of that scenario ever unfolding again is absurd, given the greater globalization of the sport. But the fact that it ever occured in the first place is absurd, and makes one wish he could have sat on the deck and watched one of those Indiana practices unfold. Said Hall in an interview with Swimming World a few months back: “When I got there, I knew the tradition was rich. Everyone knew about the past and that’s why they gave themselves to the program. There was an obligation to carry on the tradition by stepping up and doing your part. We came to be part of this family and it was important to do whatever was needed to maintain a high level. Nothing less was accepted. Every day, we tried to one-up each other. We were all trying to get Doc’s attention.”

Taking a few moments to read Woods’ feature is worth your time, as is reading a former feature of his on the 1976 United States Olympic men’s squad that dominated the action in Montreal. That piece, titled “Doc’s Boys,” provides a tremendous glimpse into a team that won 12 of the 13 events on the 1976 Olympic schedule.



  1. Bob Lange

    The Science of Swimming