To many locals, Tod Spieker is synonymous with real estate property management. He founded his company, Spieker Properties, Inc, in 1981 and has around 3,000 multi-family units under management in Silicon Valley. He’s also known as a generous donor of aquatic facilities at his two alma maters, Menlo-Atherton High School and UCLA in 2001 and 2009, respectively.
But, it was Tod’s many years of competitive swimming and the lore of the great M-A teams in the late 60s — as well as some of his other philanthropic pursuits — that drew us to his company headquarters for a chat. The Atherton resident had an immediate shout out to his first M-A coach, Bob Gaughran, who he keeps in contact with.
“He made a tremendous impact on me,” he says. “There are only a handful of people outside of my family I can say that about. He not only understands people relationships but has a great knowledge in his field. He knows swimming and water polo as well as anyone.”
(For the record, he verifies the story related by Gaughran when we visited with the coach in August that almost cost M-A a big meet. And, while he admits that he was stupid and silly to be screwing around the day before an important competition, he says he blames fellow swimmer Bill Brandt for egging him on. He suffered a big gash over his eye.)
While his dad went to Stanford — ”and didn’t like it,” says Tod — and his mom and older siblings went to Cal, it was the warmth of the winter sun that lured him to UCLA on a swimming scholarship.
“I went down in the middle of January, 1967, and it was 80 degrees,” he recalls. “I love warm weather, and it was just far enough away without being too far away. It was a great choice for me because it taught me to be on my own. LA is an aggressive town.”
In addition to providing the lead gift to fund UCLA’s new aquatic center, he underwrites the Tod Spieker Colloquium Series in Geography, his undergraduate major. “I really like the subject and loved just talking to one of the professors, Dr. McFadden.”
After graduation, Tod continued to swim in master competitions for 30 years. Now, the main pool he jumps into is the one in his backyard. Swimming and workouts at Axis are the cornerstones of his daily exercise routine.
“In my mind, I’ve always wanted to be the best I can be in my field,” he says. “Right now, that’s real estate. All those years spent swimming provided me with a competitive edge.”
Photo by Scott R. Kline