Mark Spitz on Passing Torch to Phelps

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This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," August 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

E.D. HILL, HOST: For 36 years he held the record for the most gold medals in a single Olympics. That all changed on Saturday when Michael Phelps swam right past his incredible feat. So, how did Spitz feel, disappointment, envy? No, no, just sheer excitement like the rest of the America even though it was his record Phelps was breaking. So, does he think Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all times?

Well, we are proud to welcome, Mark Spitz.

Nice to being here.

MARK SPITZ, WON SEVEN GOLDS AT MUNICH GAMES: It's my pleasure. I don't understand why they don't use color pictures of me. I mean, we did have colored cameras back on those days. It makes me look totally ancient.

Video: Watch the interview


HILL: Let me ask you about the conversation that you had with Michael Phelps right after he won the seventh gold medal. What did you say to him?

SPITZ: Well, before we actually got on the air I said, "That's great job, congratulations." But when I.

HILL: Did you mean it?

SPITZ: Yes, I did.

HILL: Or did you feel any kind of remorse that, hey, this long- standing record is gone?

SPITZ: No, because I'll tell you what I said and that was is that once I got on the air with him, I told the world that I always wondered what I would say if, in fact, this day came, and I thought it was going to come four years before when he was in Athens when he fell short by one of the gold medals because the relay didn't get the gold medal.

So, I knew that this was really going to happen. And when I saw the 100-meter butterfly race in the NBC studio in that evening, like moments before, you know, before, the race was just unbelievable, and the first thing that came to mind was one word, and it really sort of spelled the whole thing, and that was "awesome." And, you know, it was epic. And so, you know, he really was epic in this particular situation for a week.

HILL: Now, I know, and no one can diminish his accomplishments but we just had a photo of him in this full body suit. And I want to ask you about that. You know, we've seen these swimming records falling at a dizzying pace now that you got this revolutionary new swimsuit. Is it fair to compare records set before the revolutionary swimsuit and those set after?

SPITZ: I'm not so sure that the verdict is out that that swimsuit, really, is doing much for anybody. They had a number of research studies on the suit and you need to swim about six and a half miles an hour fast so that you can get the full effect of the laminar flow of that suit.

There's only people that can swim the 50-meter free style, men only, that can actually take advantage of that. And if you notice that Michael swam in actually a suit that was much smaller than that in most of his races.

HILL: Certainly, he has earned it. People say he's going to be taking some time off now. And I suppose you can help him again in that area because you've teamed up with Hyatt. What would be the deal you'd tell him about this?

SPITZ: Well, actually, on September 1st through December 19th, Hyatt Resorts has a thing where if you book your reservation, you end up getting one extra day for free, a room upgrade and most importantly, I like this, as you get your breakfast for two during the length of that stay and if you actually use an American Express card, you get a food and beverage treat, also. I'd like somebody to give me something like that back for all the traveling I've done in the last six months, or even that, how about a free tank of gas, for that matter.

HILL: I have seen what his caloric intake is. So, I'll tell you what? Hyatt is going to be losing money if he gets a free breakfast, because he eats a lot.

SPITZ: Yes, right. (INAUDIBLE) works for him, I understand.

HILL: Mark Spitz, thank you so much for joining us. It's a real honor.

SPITZ: Well, thank you. It's a pleasure.

HILL: All right. Coming up: Guns in schools is our next topic. Now, I know that you've said, "I've heard that all before," but wait, because you haven't heard this — the guns in school we're talking about are guns carried by teachers. In fact, some argue the problems with gun violence in schools began after guns were banned. A new law changes that. It's all next.

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