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Jerry Heidenreich, 52; Olympic Swim Medalist

April 24, 2002|From Associated Press

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

Heidenreich died Thursday at his home in Paris, Texas, in an apparent suicide, according to a police spokesman. Heidenreich had suffered a stroke last summer and never seemed to regain his health.

Heidenreich won four medals--two gold, one silver and one bronze--at the 1972 Games in Munich. Although he never gained the worldwide reputation of fellow Olympian Mark Spitz, who won seven swimming gold medals in 1972, his name was recognized in Texas, where he later became a professional swimming instructor.

In the 1972 Games, Heidenreich won gold as a member of the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay team and the 4 x 100-meter medley relay team. He won silver in the 100-meter freestyle, finishing second to Spitz, and bronze in the 100-meter butterfly, finishing behind Spitz and Canadian Bruce Robertson.

The Dallas native did his college swimming at Southern Methodist University, where he was selected an All-American four consecutive years.

He won 18 individual Southwest Conference titles, one NCAA title and set the world record in 200-meter freestyle.

He missed going to the 1968 Olympics by one one-hundredth of a second in the 100-meter butterfly.

Heidenreich graduated from SMU in 1972 with a business degree.

He operated the Aquatic Academy in Dallas and Paris.

He also founded the Academy of Texas Aquatic Champions.

He is survived by a son, a brother and a sister.

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