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Mark Spitz talks athletic successes at Greek Grand Chapter event

Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz spoke in Lisner Auditorium Tuesday as part of Greek Grand Chapter. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer.
Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz spoke in Lisner Auditorium Tuesday as part of GW Greek Life’s Grand Chapter event. Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Melissa Schapiro.

Eleven-time Olympic swimming medalist Mark Spitz told members of the Greek community about his athletic success Tuesday evening during the annual Grand Chapter in Lisner Auditorium.

Spitz, who was a member of Phi Kappa Psi at Indiana University, shared his stories with about 150 students at the event. Roll call of all the chapters was taken at the beginning of the event, and members responded with whoops, hollers and pre-planned cheers.

Didn’t make the event? Here are the three biggest takeaways:

1. Experiences from the Olympics

Spitz discussed his iconic mustache, saying he kept it because he realized his competitors were focusing on how strange it was rather than thinking about how to beat him in the pool. He said he tricked the Russian coach into believing it was a strategy to deflect the water from entering his mouth.

“At the next Olympics all the Russian swimmers had mustaches,” he said.

Spitz also detailed the famous Adidas incident at the 1972 Olympics, where he proudly waved his shoes in the air after the medal ceremony. He explained that he hadn’t had time to fully cool down between the race and the ceremony and was still holding his shoes when someone instructed him to wave to the crowd. The Russians saw the act as product placement, but Spitz denied the allegations and the International Olympic Committee cleared Spitz of any bad behavior.

2. Thoughts on success

At one point, Spitz asked the audience if they thought the Wright brothers could fly a 747 airplane. He took count of audience members who raised their hands yes and those who raised their hands no. But, after taking a count, he said he didn’t care about their responses – just that they responded at all.

Spitz said he wanted to illustrate how the majority of people are afraid of being wrong and don’t attempt to answer. He said that the approximately 15 percent of people who do raise their hands in similar scenarios are the people who will earn the most money and make most of the decisions for the rest of the population.

“You become successful from allowing yourself to fail,” he said.

3. Ties to Greek life

Spitz said he was intrigued by the competitive atmosphere of Greek life and said that it gave him opportunities to meet people he wouldn’t have otherwise. He said some problems faced by members of Greek life are problems that exist in every other sector of life and must be monitored.

“The Greek system needs a set of guidelines and a designated sort of cop to enforce them,” he said.

He added that picking on others isn’t right and there needs to be a set of consequences for guilty parties immediately after incidents occur.

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