Olympic Legends…After The Podium

Matt Biondi

By Alexander Hardwick, Swimming World College Intern

If you aren’t a swimmer, an ex-swimmer, a coach, a swim parent or a chlorine addict, the only time you watch competitive swimming is during the Olympics. Every four years, the world sits down in front of their televisions, and watches as generations of great swimmers rise to the top of the podium.

But who thinks about what happens after these Olympic legends take their final stroke?

Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Mark J. Terril

Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Mark J. Terri

Listed below are the most decorated retired Olympic male swimmers and their achievements outside of the water. For young swimmers, some of these names may seem new. For the older swimming generation, enjoy a blast from the past as you hear what these greats are doing now!

1. “Mark the Shark” Spitz, 9-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick (Mark Spitz)

At the Santa Clara Swim Club, Spitz began his run to the top. At the age of 14, Spitz already made a name for himself by breaking 17 national age group records. In his later years, Spitz was acclaimed to have the best swim performance of his time by wining seven gold medals and breaking seven world records in a single Olympic Games.

After his swimming career, Spitz became the first swimmer to dive into sponsorships outside of the pool. Schick sponsored Spitz right off the runway with his trademark mustache. Spitz also did endorsements for; Xerox, Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, John Hancock Financial Services, General Motors, General Mills, Swatch, and more. Spitz settled down in Los Angeles, CA and began his own real estate company based out of Beverly Hills. He also has gotten involved with the US Olympic team giving numerous motivational speeches. Mark loves inspiring athletes and has embraced his life outside the pool with enthusiasm.

2. Matt “The California Condor” Biondi, 8-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Matt Biondi Clinic

Photo Courtesy: Next Level Champion Series (Matt Biondi)

In Moraga, California, Matt began swimming and playing water polo. It wasn’t until he entered Campolindo High School that Matt started swimming competitively. His senior year he set the high school 50 freestyle national record with a time of 20.40 seconds. Matt Biondi compete in the sprint freestyle races and relays at the ’84, ‘88 and ‘92 Olympics.

After swimming, Matt became a schoolteacher and swim coach in Hawaii. After moving back to his home state of California in 2012, he was hired at the Sierra Canyon School. The school is located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Chatsworth. During the day, Matt can be seen teaching youth math, and by night coaching both the high school and middle school swimming teams. Matt enjoys coaching middle school, hoping to help young athletes chase success at the high school and college level. Matt also spends his time in the masters swimming community with a swim meet dedicated to him called The Matt Biondi Masters Classic. The meet is short course and located at his club, the Conejo Valley Multisport Masters.

3. Gary Hall Jr., 5-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Swimming was bound to be in Gary Hall Jr.’s blood even before being born in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father Gary Hall Sr. was a 3-time Olympic swimmer (1968, 1972, and 1976). Hall Jr. was in his sixth year of swimming at the Atlanta Olympics, where he won two individual slivers and was a part of two world-record-setting relay teams (400 medley relay, 400 free relay). He later swam in both the Sydney and Athens games, compiling a totally of 10 Olympic medals.

The club originally known as The World Team, known famously now as The Race Club was designed to serve as a training group for some the elite athletes en route to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The founders of the team, Gary Hall Jr. and Sr., wanted to help swimmers meet their maximum potential. With this vision the team today offers numerous camps, clinics, and technique videos to teams and swimmers worldwide.

Hall Jr. also has made a splash helping others; most don’t know that Hall Jr. himself was a type I diabetic. His company, Hallway Consulting, emphasizes the similarities in good health coming from both exercise and proper nutrition. The company’s focus is to help with preventable diseases through education and an action plan. Hall Jr. is also the Sports Marketing Director for the Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation. He has helped others in pursuit of healthier selves, as he continues to stay active and having fun playing other sports.

4. Tom Jager, 5-time Olympic Gold Medalist


The Jager family was a swim family in every sense. Jager’s older brother swam at the University of Illinois and his sister swam at the University of Iowa. Tom swam at UCLA (before the program was cut), and won five NCAA championship titles and was the 1984 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. Jager was a freestyle and backstroke warrior. Jager Team USA’s relay king, winning five Olympic gold medals in relays, and a silver (1988) and a bronze (1992) in the 50 freestyle.

After ending competition in the pool, Jager still stays competitive on the deck as a coach. In 2002, He founded the swim team Gold Medal Swim Team, the team is stationed in Austin, Texas. The team has moved with Jager and his college coaching jobs, but has kept the same mission mantra “Enjoy the Process.” Then Jager head coached the University of Idaho’s Vandals women’s team, before moving onto the Washington State University in 2011.

5. Johnny Weissmuller, 5-time Olympic Gold Medalist


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

Johnny won his first gold at the Paris games (1924) in the 400m Freestyle, and would later that meet take home gold in the 100m Freestyle and 4x 200m Freestyle Relay. In Paris, he would also win bronze on the Olympic Water Polo team! He would credit some of his success in polo and swimming to his vegetarian diet prescribed by Kellogg.

After the pool, Weissmuller took to the big screen. In 1929, he signed with BVD to be a representative and model. Later, Weissmuller would sign with MGM, for seven years allowing him to play Tarzan in six movies. In 1948, Weissmuller would play the role of Jim in Jungle Jim. After the movies, he took to the greens, playing in two official PGA tournaments (1937 Western Open & 1948 Hawaiian Open). Before finally, ending up in Las Vegas, alongside boxer Joe Louis as a Caesars Palace greeter.

6. Aaron Peirsol, 5-time Olympic Gold Medalist

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick (Aaron Peirsol)

Growing up in Irvine, California, Aaron and his sister, Hayley, would be the first sibling combo to medal at the same FINA World Championship (2003). Aaron was known for his dominant backstroke speed as he clenched silver in the 100 back at the 2000 games, and swept the backstroke events at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.

Aaron is still by the water working near his home, Newport Harbor, as a lifeguard, which he points out was a dream of his since being a junior Newport board as a kid. He lifeguards and when not is found in the water surfing and paddle boarding. Peirsol also will likely be seen on deck at the Rio games as a correspondant. Peirsol is still a great ambassador for USA Swimming and frequently goes to meets showing his support for swimming at all levels.


7. Brad Pitt & Hugh Jackman, 0 Olympic Gold Medals

Brad Pitt, a swimmer on the Kickapoo High School team (Springfield, Mo.), graduated in 1982. The heart throb found more success on land than in the pool.

Hugh Jackman also starred on his high school swim team. I guess Wolverine’s killer claws couldn’t hold enough water….

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Art Winters
Art Winters
8 years ago

What happened to one of my swimmers? He should have been in this list. Steve Lundquist won 2 gold medals in 1984 Olympics for America and even carried the American Flag into the stadium to start the Olympics! I coached him for almost 15 years.

Alexander Hardwick
Alexander Hardwick
8 years ago

Mr. Winters,

The United States has produced many great gold medal swimmers, and your swimmer Steve lundquist included! For the purpose of this article, I stuck to the US males that won the most Olympic gold medals.

8 years ago

cody simpson, current teenage popstar, was also a swimmer and swam with Cameron McEvoy in the same club in Queensland

Dan Patterson
8 years ago

How about some updates on famous olympian women swimmers….?

8 years ago

Mary T? Tracy Caulkins? Etc etc?

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