A flawless stroke and stellar stamina translated into multiple Olympic wins and world records for this unrivaled swimmer.
Born October 8, 1965, in Palo Alto, California, Matt Biondi’s athletic build and abilities earned him status as one of the world’s best swimmers.
With an unusually large build for a swimmer – 6’6″ and 200 pounds – Biondi cut the water powerfully and earned his reputation early. In 1983, as a student at the University of California-Berkeley, Biondi was a member of the school’s NCAA Champion Water Polo Squad. (It was a role he’d repeat in 1984 and 1987.)
The following year – at just 18 years of age – Biondi struck gold, taking home top honors at the Olympics Games in Los Angeles as part of the 4 by 100 meter relay team.
In 1988, Biondi warmed up for the upcoming Seoul Olympics by setting a world record with a 48.42 in the 100-meter freestyle.
It surprised no one that he subsequently became one of the 1988 Olympics’ biggest stars, taking home seven medals, including five gold. Biondi won individual gold medals in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events and was a member of the gold-winning 400- and 800-meter freestyle relay teams and the 400-meter medley relay team. In addition, he took silver in the 100-meter butterfly and bronze in the 200-meter freestyle.
His performance at the 1992 Olympics earned Biondi a silver in the 50-meter freestyle and two golds, as a member of the 4 by 100 freestyle and 4 by 100 medley teams. The three medals brought Biondi’s Olympic total to eleven – and another record, as he tied with shooter Carl Osburn and swimmer Mark Spitz for most Olympic medals won by an American athlete.
The same year, Biondi hung up his goggles and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.