Jerry Heidenreich (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1992)
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1972 silver (100m freestyle), bronze (100m butterfly), gold (400m freestyle relay), gold (400m medley relay); WORLD RECORD: 6 (relays); NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: 1 (200yd freestyle) PAN AMERICAN GAMES: 1971, 3 gold (relays), silver (100m butterfly); AMERICAN RECORDS (Short Course): 200yd freestyle, 1 relay; AMERICAN RECORDS (Long Course): 4 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 Heidenreich 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, Texas, area. He competed through high school at the town North YMCA, during which time he qualified for his first national championship in the 100m 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 50m pool and with 1968 Olympic champion Doug Russell. That was when he placed in his first outdoor national final in the 100m 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 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays, as well as the 4x100m medley relay, swimming the butterfly. By the end of that summer, he was ranked number two in the word in the 100m and 200m freestyle and number five in the 100m 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 200m freestyle, Heidenreich failed to the make the ’72 Olympic team. However, he came back the next day and qualified in the 100m butterfly and freestyle.
At Munich, Jerry won four Olympic medals, two gold in the medley and freestyle relays, one silver in the 100m freestyle, and one bronze in the 100m 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.