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.