king of swimmer レジェンドを打ち立てた選手 : マーク・スピッツ

偉大な水泳選手というと、誰を思い浮かべるでしょう。

数々の世界新記録を打ち立てた、イアン・ソープ選手やマイケルフェルプス選手などは記憶に新しいところですが、歴史に名を残したスイマーは、必ずと言っていいほどある選手と比較されます。

それがマーク・スピッツ。「水の申し子」と呼ばれたマーク・スピッツは、全ての水泳選手にとっての伝説と言っていい存在です。

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マーク・スピッツってどんなスイマー?その略歴

マーク・スピッツの略歴を見ていきましょう。

マーク・スピッツは、アメリカ人の水泳選手で、1950年に生まれました。1960年代から1970年代にかけて活躍したスイマーであり、引退した現在も、アメリカ競泳競技のシンボル的な存在です。

10歳の頃には、出場する全ての大会で優勝するなど、早くから神童ぶりは知られていました。その後、カリフォルニア州にあるスイミングクラブで本格的なトレーニングを始め、生涯の師であるジョージヘインズの指導を受けます。

オリンピックに初めて参加したのは、1968年のメキシコオリンピックです。この大会は、リレー種目で2つの金メダルを獲得し、個人競技の100メートル自由形では銅メダル、100メートルバタフライでは銀メダルを獲得しました。

マーク・スピッツが世界的に知られるきっかけになったのは、4年後の1972年ミュンヘンオリンピックですが、その当時マーク・スピッツは、歯医者を目指していたという興味深いエピソードがあります。

オリンピック参加時、彼は大学の歯学部に在籍していました。

スピッツが歯医者の道を辞めたのは、ミュンヘンオリンピックからです。その大会で、前人未到の偉業を打ち立てます。

前人未到の7個の金メダルと世界新記録

1972年のミュンヘンオリンピックといえば、日本男子バレーボールチームが金メダルを獲得したり、ミュンヘンの悲劇が起こったりと、オリンピック史上でもエピソードの多い大会でしたが、スピッツもまた、オリンピックの主役と言える活躍を果たしました。

100メートル自由形で金メダルを獲得すると、続いて200メートル自由形、100メートルバタフライ、200メートルバタフライと個人競技で次々と金メダルを獲得。

リレー競技の400メートル自由形、800メートル自由形も制し、そして400メートルメドレーリレーも優勝したことで、水泳競技「7冠」という大偉業を成し遂げました。しかも驚愕なのは、金メダルを獲得した全ての競技で、当時の世界新記録を達成したことです。

1大会7種目の金メダルは、マイケルフェルプス選手の8個に次いで、2番目の記録です。また、メキシコオリンピックで獲得した、2つの金メダルを合わせて9個の金メダルは、同じくマイケルフェルプス選手に塗り替えられるまで、最多記録でした。

世界に鮮烈な印象を与えたスピッツの元には、多くのスポンサーやCMの契約などが殺到します。そして、ミュンヘンでの活躍を機に、スピッツは歯医者の道を辞め、当時としては珍しかった、企業の広告塔や宣伝マンとして、多くのポスターやメディアに登場するようになります。

マーク・スピッツが今も世界的なスターであるのは、数々の記録もありますが、水泳の世界だけでなく、ショービズの世界に華麗に転身して、そこでも成功を収めたことも関係しているのかもしれません。

水泳に留まらない存在感を、持っています。

後世に影響を与えた新泳法と引退後のマーク・スピッツの略歴

スピッツは、水泳という競技を大きく変えました。彼が考案した泳法に「S字ストローク」というものがあります。S字ストロークとは、その名の通り、腕をSの字を描くように水をかく泳法で、当時、革命的な泳法でした。

S字ストロークのメリットは、効率性です。少ない力で、効率よく水をかくことができます。また、お腹の下で手のひらを外側に返すとき、渦が発生することで大きな揚力を産みます。

競技としては、中距離での距離に向いている泳法です。スピッツが考案したS字ストロークは、その後水泳界でスタンダードになり、ジム・モンゴメリー選手や、ローディ・ゲインズ選手といった名選手たちも、S字ストロークを改良した泳法で世界記録を塗り替えました。

2000年代にイアン・ソープ選手が登場して「I字ストローク」を流行らすまで、大きな影響力を持った泳法です。バタフライでは、鍵穴を描くように水をかいた泳法を開発します。

この泳法も、その後の泳法の技術向上に大きな影響を与えています。

スピッツは、ミュンヘンオリンピックで大きな成功をおさめた後、電撃的に引退してしまいます。その後はメディアなどで活躍しますが、39歳になった1989年に現役復帰を宣言します。

ただ、目標としていたオリンピックの出場は叶いませんでした。 それでもスピッツは水泳のプロ化に大きな影響を残したり、メーカーと契約して選手モデルのスポーツ用品を発売したりと先進的な取り組みを行い、現在の水泳界に多大な貢献を果たしました。

現在、水泳で活躍した選手はスター化し、高額のライセンス料が支払われ、水泳界は大きなビジネスチャンスの場となっていますが、その基盤を作ったのは、スピッツだといっても過言ではありません。

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