Breaststroke Legend Dr. Chet Jastremski Passes Away At 73

With causes still unknown to the general public, including the SwimSwam staff, Polish American breaststroker and Indiana University graduate Chet Jastremski passed away today at the age of 73. As a fellow breaststroker, my heart hurts to hear this news.

Born in raised in Toledo, Ohio, Dr. Jastremski inherited and embraced his Polish American heritage from his father as he claimed to receive a great amount of support over seas even though never visiting or never having any association with the country during competition. He was officially inducted into the National Polish-American Hall of Fame in 2007.

He attended IU during the Doc Cousilman era and collaborated with him to revolutionize the breaststroke kick, changing from a wide frog style kick to the small whip kick commonly used today. In 1962, Jastremski premiered on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the World’s Greatest Swimmer. He graduated from Indiana with a medical degree in 1968 and set 12 world records and 21 American records, then served as team doctor on the 1976 Olympic Team in Montreal, Canada.

Though the list of accomplishments of Chet is long, his greatest swimming accomplishments include his inductions into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1997 and 2007 Polish-American Hall of Fame induction, his gold medal at the 1963 Pan American Games in São Paulo, Brazil in the 200 breaststroke (2:35.4), and his bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in the 200 breaststroke (2:29.6). He was also the first swimmer to break a minute in the 100 breaststroke.


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Come on

His famous nickname…. “Chet the Jet”. Old Schoolers know that….

Come on

Oh…. Coach Shoulberg (Germantown) swam against him once in high school.


1 minute in the early sixties ???? Wasn’t it rather 1:10 ?

Think yards for the 1 minute comment. I saw him set a world record at the 1961 Men’s LC Nat’ls at the L. A. Swim Stadium (next to the Coliseum, built for the 1932 Olympics)…1:07.5.


A sense of his dominance in ’61 is that behind his 1:07.5, 2nd was 1:11+, which was the world record just 7 weeks earlier, during which period Chet broke the WR 6 times to get down to the 1:07.5 which lasted nearly 3 years as the WR in that era of rapidly dropping records. It’s like starting in July at :58.0 and ending up at :54+. Per Wikipedia world record progressions: 1:11.4 Leonid Kolesnikov Soviet Union May 2, 1961 Moscow, Soviet Union 1:11.1 Chet Jastremski United States July 2, 1961 Chicago, United States 1:10.8 Gunter Tittes East Germany July 5, 1961 East Berlin, East Germany 1:10.7 Chet Jastremski United States July 28, 1961 Tokyo, Japan 1:10.0 Chet Jastremski United States… Read more »


Anybody ever have a better season in a single event than Chet had across the 7 weeks from early July through 8-20 of 1961, as described below through the world record progression in Wikipedia? He broke the WR 6 times, dropping the record 3.9 seconds himself (1:11.4 when he started, 1:07.5 when he finished), with some serious globe trotting included — Chicago, Tokyo, Osaka, Los Angeles — that can’t have been that helpful to his training and competition preparation. His 8-20-61 mark from finals lasted as WR for nearly 3 years. 1:11.4 Leonid Kolesnikov Soviet Union May 2, 1961 Moscow, Soviet Union 1:11.1 Chet Jastremski United States July 2, 1961 Chicago, United States 1:10.8 Gunter Tittes East Germany July 5,… Read more »

About Gisselle Kohoyda

Midland, Michigan native Gisselle Kohoyda is all too familiar with life in the pool and on the deck, even with her late start in the sport at the age of 14. This part time coach and full time breaststroker focuses her driven energy towards social media management, journalism, writing practices, …

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