Michael Gross (born 17 June 1964), spelled Michael Groß in German, is a former swimmer from Germany. He is 201 centimetres (6 ft 7 in) tall, and received the nickname "The Albatross" due to his especially long arms that gave him a total span of 2.13 meters. Gross, competing for West Germany, won three Olympic gold medals, two in 1984 and one in 1988 in the freestyle and butterfly events, in addition to two World Championship titles in 1982, two in 1986 and one in 1991.
Gross was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He was probably the finest swimmer in the world in the 200-meter butterfly race from 1981 to 1988. In this period he set four world records, won two world titles, four European titles and one Olympic gold medal.
At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Gross was one of the great athletes of the games. Gross easily won gold in the 200-meter freestyle, dominating the field. In the 100-meter butterfly, however, Gross pulled off a bit of an upset, winning over the favorite in the event, American Pablo Morales. However, in the 200-meter butterfly, Gross himself was upset by a relative unknown, AustralianJon Sieben. The men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay race became one of the marquee events of the games, with Gross leading the German relay against the underdog American squad. Despite the fact that Gross swam the fastest relay leg in the event's history, the American team pulled off the upset, earning the title of the "Grossbusters."
Gross won a total of thirteen medals at the World Championships (including five gold), fifteen gold medals at the European Championships and was elected German "Athlete of the Year" four times (1982, 1983, 1984 and 1988). He retired from professional swimming in 1991.
American gold medalist swimmer John Naber remarked to Sports Illustrated in 1984 that if Michael Gross were an American, he would have won six or seven medals, and that Gross was better than Mark Spitz.