Mike Burton (swimmer)

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Mike Burton
Personal information
Full name Michael Jay Burton
Nickname(s) "Mike"
Nationality  United States
Born (1947-07-03) July 3, 1947 (age 67)
Des Moines, Iowa
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight 154 lb (70 kg)
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Freestyle
Club Arden Hills Swim Club
College team University of California, Los Angeles

Michael Jay Burton (born July 3, 1947) is an American former swimmer, three-time Olympic champion, and former world record-holder who specialized in freestyle events.

When he was an eighth grader he was hit by a furniture truck while riding a bicycle with a friend. The accident caused injuries that made him have to quit contact sports. He loved to play football and basketball, but the accident made him want to be the best swimmer in the world.

Burton graduated from El Camino Fundamental High School. At the 1967 University Games swimming competition in Tokyo, Japan, he won a gold medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle, ahead of Russian Semyon Belits-Geiman.[1]

Burton won two gold medals in individual events at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City: the men's 400-meter freestyle and men's 1,500-meter freestyle. Four years later at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, he became the only American ever to repeat as the 1,500-meter freestyle gold medalist, and he also recaptured the world record in the process. Burton's repeat proved a stunning win: in the spring of 1972, Burton had been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, and at the U.S. Olympic Trials had barely made the Olympic Team, qualifying eighth for the final and then finishing third to make the team (at the time, a country could enter up to three athletes per event in swimming).

The celebration in Munich of his historic repeat, however, was overshadowed by Mark Spitz's performance at those Games and by the terrorist attack on the Olympic Village, which occurred the day after his race.

Burton coached the Seahawks in Billings, Montana at the local YMCA. His daughter Loni, embarked on a her own successful swimming career. She is one of just two swimmers in NCAA history to win twelve individual titles. She was able to perform the feat in just three years as Division II swimmers are eligible to participate in four individual events versus three in Division I and III.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ralph Hickok (January 16, 2010). "World University Games Men's Swimming Medalists". HickokSports.com. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 

External links[edit]

  • Mike Burton – Olympic athlete profile at Sports-Reference.com
  • Mike Burton (USA) – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame

Preceded by

Stephen Krause
Guillermo Echevarria
Rick DeMont
Men's 1500-meter freestyle
world record-holder

August 21, 1966 – July 7, 1968
September 3, 1968 – August 23, 1970
September 4, 1972 – August 5, 1973
Succeeded by

Guillermo Echevarria
John Kinsella
Stephen Holland