Matthew Nicholas Biondi (born 8 October 1965 in Palo Alto, California) is a three-time U.S. Olympic swimmer in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics, winning a total of 11 medals. He is a member of the United States Olympic Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Biondi started his aquatics career as a swimmer and water polo player in his hometown of Moraga, California. As he moved into his teens, his incredible abilities as a sprint swimmer began to emerge. Though he did not start swimming year-round until he started at Campolindo High School, by his senior year Biondi was the top high school sprinter in America with a National High School record of 20.40 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. He accepted a scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley to swim and play water polo. In his freshman year, he played on Berkeley's NCAA Championship water polo team, and made the consolation finals at the 1984 NCAA Swimming Championships.
The summer of 1984, Biondi surprised the swimming community by qualifying for a spot on the U.S. 4×100 meter freestyle relay at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The team won the gold medal in a world record time. Returning to Berkeley, Biondi once again played on an NCAA Champion water polo team in the fall and in the winter of 1985 won the first of his 8 individual swimming titles at NCAAs. He would be named NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 1985, 1986, and 1987 while setting several American and NCAA records.
Biondi set the first of his twelve individual swimming world records in 1985. He was the first man to swim the 100-meter freestyle faster than 49 seconds, and by 1988 he owned the ten fastest times swum in that event. He won a total 24 U.S. Championships in the 50, 100, and 200-meter freestyle events, as well as the 100-butterfly. In two World Championships (1986 and 1991), Biondi won 11 medals including six gold. During his career, he was a James E. Sullivan Award Finalist, the UPI Sportsman of the Year, the USOC Sportsman of the Year, and twice the Swimming World magazine Male Swimmer of the World (1986 and 1988).
Biondi was involved in perhaps the most notable defeat of any competitor at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In the 100m butterfly final, caught between strokes as he approached the finishing wall, he chose to glide rather than take another stroke, and was beaten by Anthony Nesty of Suriname by 1/100th of a second.
He still managed to win 5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics, achieving world records in 4 of those triumphs, 3 in relays and one in the 50m freestyle, clocking 22.14 seconds for the sprint 50. This was the third time he had broken or equaled the existing 50m freestyle world record.
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