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Remembering Jerry Heidenreich

1972 Olympian and 1992 ISHOF Masters honor swimmer

Author Unknown | April 30, 2002

Jerry Heidenreich (USA) was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in 1992. The following text was included in the program for the induction ceremony of that year:

The Record: Olympics; 1972 silver (100 free), bronze (100 fly), gold (400 free relay), gold (400 medley relay). Six world record relays. One NCAA championship: (200 free). Pan American Games: 1971, three golds (relays), silver (100 fly). American records: Short Course (200 free, one relay). Long Course (four relays).

Just as Don Schollander had Canadian Ralph Hutton to chase him to his world and Olympic records, so too, did Mark Spitz have Jerry Heidenreich to push him to his competitive limits. Jerry Heindenreich spent his life's career swimming and training in Texas, but put the world on red alert when he traveled internationally. He was a team swimmer and, during his career, set six world records as a relay team member.

Jerry was an early beginner at age six, swimming for various country clubs in the Dallas  area. He competed through high school at the Town North YMCA, during which time he qualified for his first national championship in the 100-meter butterfly in 1967.

Swimming for his Hillcrest High School team, he was All-American in every event except the breaststroke. Following graduation, Jerry joined Coach Don Easterling's Burford Swim Team of Arlington, Texas, so that he could train in a 50-meter pool and with the 1968 Olympic champion Doug Russell. That was when he placed in his first outdoor national final in the 100-meter butterfly. Attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Jerry broke every school record in the freestyle, butterfly and individual medley events and became Coach Red Barr's outstanding swimmer with twenty-three NCAA All-American titles.

When Coach George McMillon took over in 1971, Jerry qualified for the Cali Colombia Pan American Team and won gold medals on the four x 100-meter and four x 200-meter freestyle relays, as well as the four x 100-meter medley relay, swimming the butterfly. By the end of that summer, he was ranked number two in the world in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle and number five in the 100-meter butterfly.

As a senior in 1972, Jerry won the 200-yard freestyle in NCAA record time, setting the stage for swimming this event at the Olympic Trials and Games. But it was not to be. Although ranked first in the world in the 200-meter freestyle, Heidenreich failed to make the 1972 Olympic team. However, he came back the next day and qualified in the 100-meter butterfly and freestyle.

At Munich, Jerry won four Olympic medals, two gold in the medley and freestyle relays, one silver in the 100-meter freestyle and one bronze in the 100-meter butterfly. All totaled, he broke five Olympic records and four world records in the process.

Before Jerry was finished, he had set six American records and six world records. He continues his swimming by coaching Masters swimmers and teaching swimming to youngsters.

 

April 27, 2002

Jerry Heidenreich, 52, Olympic Swimmer, Dies

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jerry Heidenreich, who won two gold medals for the United States swimming team at the 1972 Olympics, has died. He was 52.

Heidenreich died April 18 at his home in Paris, Texas. A Paris police spokesman said he apparently committed suicide. Heidenreich had a stroke last summer and struggled to regain his health.

Heidenreich won four medals—two gold (in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and in the 4x100 medley relay), one silver (in the 100 freestyle) and one bronze (in the 100 butterfly)—at the 1972 Games in Munich.

Although he never gained the worldwide reputation of his fellow Olympian, Mark Spitz, who won seven swimming gold medals in 1972, Heidenreich's name was recognized in Dallas, where he later became a professional swimming instructor.

He operated the Aquatic Academy in Dallas, where he grew up, and Paris, and founded the Academy of Texas Aquatic Champions.

Heidenreich missed going to the 1968 Olympics by a hundredth of a second in the 100 butterfly.

At Southern Methodist University, he was an all-American four consecutive years. He won 18 individual Southwest Conference titles and one N.CA.A. title and set the world record in the 200 freestyle.

Heidenreich was later inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his son, Austin Moro Heidenreich; his brother, Max Heidenreich of Tulsa, Okla; and his sister, Krissy MacCurdy of Carrollton, Texas.

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