| LOS ANGELES, June 24
LOS ANGELES, June 24 Mark Spitz's advice to
Michael Phelps ahead of the London Olympics would be that, when
you have already won more gold medals at a single Games than any
swimmer in history, less could turn out to be more.
Phelps, 27 this month, beat Spitz's 1972 record of seven
gold medals four years ago at the Beijing Games and will compete
in the U.S. Olympic trials beginning on Monday in Omaha,
He has signed up for seven individual events, which combined
with the three relays he is likely to join at the London Games
could potentially see him strive for a stunning 10 gold medals
It remains to be seen exactly how many events he will swim
in London, but Spitz said that - put in his place - he would
want to "go out a winner' rather than collecting silver and
That would be by limiting his efforts to those events in
which he is strongest and swim six in total including the
"I would rather go in and swim six events and get six gold
medals than a couple of seconds and thirds. It doesn't really
matter to him I would imagine," the 62-year-old Spitz told
Reuters over coffee at a Los Angeles deli.
"It wouldn't matter to me, so I'm only projecting my
In the lead-up to Beijing four years ago, much of the hype
and discussion around the Games focused on whether Phelps would
beat the record set by Spitz at the 1972 Munich Games.
When he did, Phelps appeared on the cover of Sports
Illustrated magazine with his eight gold medals hanging over his
bare chest, in an image reminiscent of an iconic shot from the
1970s of a mustachioed Spitz with his seven golds.
Phelps' compatriot Ryan Lochte, 27, has become one of the
most high profile swimmers and is expected to give Phelps tough
competition at the U.S. Olympic trials and in London this
Spitz, who also competed at the Mexico City Games in 1968,
retired from swimming after Munich at the age of 22, after
winning a career total of nine gold medals, one silver and one
He later appeared in an episode of the 1970s medical drama
"Emergency!", but his career as an actor was eclipsed by the
greater success he found as a celebrity endorser for a wide
variety of products, from razors to milk.
At one time, he also worked as a stock broker.
The Californian said his famous competitive streak started
very early in his life.
At age nine, after a swimming competition at summer camp, he
was lined up next to a staircase and made to stand in a circle
with -- as Spitz recalls it -- the number five on it. At the top
of the staircase, in first place, was a boy who was given a blue
ribbon. Spitz was handed a purple ribbon for fifth place.
"So I came back with this ribbon, really upset and I handed
my mother the purple ribbon," Spitz said.
"I established at that moment that my favourite colour was
blue, and to this day you'll never see me wear anything that has
to do with purple."
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Greg McCune/Alan