Mike Burton (swimmer)

Michael Jay Burton (born July 3, 1947) is an American swimmer, three-time Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in two freestyle distance events.[1]

Mike Burton
Personal information
Full nameMichael Jay Burton
Nickname(s)"Iron Mike"
National teamUnited States
Born (1947-07-03) July 3, 1947
Des Moines, Iowa
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight154 lb (70 kg)
ClubArden Hills Swim Club
College teamUniversity of California, Los Angeles

When he was an eighth grader he was hit by a furniture truck while riding a bicycle with a friend. Earlier he loved to play football and basketball, but the injuries due to this accident made him abandon contact sports, and left swimming as one of the few fitness options.[2]

Burton graduated from El Camino High School. He won 10 AAU titles, and while at UCLA Burton was a NCCAA champion five times.[3] These included the 500 Free (1970), 1650 Free (1967, 1968, 1970), and 200 Fly (1970), which is also became an All-American for these events. Burton was also a four-time Pac-10 champion, he helped lead the Bruins to the Pac-10 Championship Team Title in 1970. He enter the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame as a Character Member.[4] At the 1967 University Games in Tokyo, Japan, he won a gold medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle, ahead of Russian Semyon Belits-Geiman.[5]

Burton won two gold medals in individual events at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City: the 400-meter freestyle and 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. While winning gold in the 1972, Burton also set a new World Record in the 1500 Free.[4] 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. The Olympic Trials were held in Chicago, Burton failed to make the Olympic team in the 400 freestyle event and the 200 butterflies. On the next to the last day of the Trials, he snuck into the finals of the 1500 when he finished eighth. Burton manager to be able to finish in third to make the team (at the time, a country could enter up to three athletes per event in swimming).[6]

At the Munich Games, Burton loved to start out fast and was the early leader even over Australian star Graham Windeatt. Yet, Windeatt fought back and regained the lead. Burton overtook Windeatt on the closing lengths, broke Rick DeMont's world record and won the gold medal for himself and the United States.[6]

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 until 2007. His daughter Loni embarked on her own successful swimming career. She is one of two swimmers in NCAA history to win twelve individual titles. She performed the feat in three years as Division II swimmers are eligible to participate in four individual events versus three in Division I and III.

He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an "Honor Swimmer" in 1977.[2]

See also


  1. Mike Burton. Sports-Reference.com
  2. Mike Burton (USA). International Swimming Hall of Fame
  3. "Mike Burton Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  4. "Four Bruins Named to All-Century Team". February 11, 2016.
  5. Ralph Hickok (January 16, 2010). "World University Games Men's Swimming Medalists". HickokSports.com. Archived from the original on December 9, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  6. "Lessons from Legends: Mike Burton and Rick DeMont, Performance Greatness". USA Swimming. Retrieved 2017-03-20.

Preceded by

Stephen Krause
Guillermo Echevarria
Rick DeMont
Men's 1,500-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

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