Breaststroke Legend Chet Jastremski Passes Away

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana, May 4. THE Indiana University swimming program is mourning the loss of All-American, Olympian and former World Record holder Chet Jastremski who passed away on Saturday, May 2.

Jastremski lettered at Indiana from 1961-63 under legendary coach James “Doc” Counsilman. He is credited, along with Counsilman, for revolutionizing the breaststroke with a narrow jump style kick and pull.

In 1960 he set the school freshman record in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.6) and finished second in the 200 breaststroke and fourth in the 100 at the 1960 Olympic Trials.

With freshmen ineligible to compete under NCAA rules, Jastremski made his Hoosier debut in 1961, earning All-America rankings in the 400 medley relay, 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke. He finished second in the 100 breast, 200 breast and 200 individual medley at the Big Ten Championships that season. In 1961 he also won NAAU outdoor titles in the 100 (1:07.5) and 200 (2:29.6) breaststroke. He finished fifth in the Sullivan Award balloting that year.

Entering the 1962 season, Jastremski was the world record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:07.5), 200-meter breaststroke (2:29.6), 110-yard breaststroke (1:09.5), 220-yard breaststroke (2:34.1) and the 400-meter medley relay (4:03.0). He won a Big Ten title in the 200-yard breaststroke with a Big Ten record time of 2:13.9. He also finished first in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:01.7) and second in the 200 IM (2:00.8). He went on to earn All-America honors in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke, 200 IM and 440-yard medley relay.

In 1962 he also won NAAU Indoor titles in the 220-yard breaststroke (2:25.3), 100-yard breaststroke (59.1) and 200-yard individual medley (1:59.4) as well as outdoor titles in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:08.9) and 200-meter breaststroke (2:30.0).

Jastremski capped his IU career in 1963 with Big Ten titles in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:13.2), 100-yard breaststroke (1:00.9) and second-place finishes in the 200-yard individual medley (2:01.6) and 400-yard medley relay (3:37.5). He went on to earn All-America honors in the 400 medley relay (third), 100 breaststroke (third), 200 breaststroke (third) and 200 individual medley (fourth).

In April 1963, Jastremski won the 200-meter breaststroke at the Pan-American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil with a time of 2:35.4. In March he was crowned AAU Indoor champion in the 100 breaststroke (58.5), 200 breaststroke (2:09.9) and 200-yard medley (1:58.5).

Jastremski made his first of two Olympic teams in 1964, winning a bronze medal in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:29.6. He competed at the 1968 Olympics as a member of the 400 medley relay team.

Jastremski was lauded as “Breaststroker of the Year” in 1965, 1966, 1970 and 1971. He was also the first man to break one minute in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Jastremski received his undergraduate degree in 1963 and a medical degree from Indiana University in 1968. From 1967-72 he served in the U.S. Army before opening a private practice in Bloomington.

In 1976 he was a member of the U.S. Olympic medical team. He also served as a member of the FINA medical committee, helping swimming’s governing body refine tests for performance-enhancing drugs, and he served as an assistant director of the family-practice resident program at Community Hospital in Indianapolis.

After leaving his family practice in 1979 due to rheumatoid arthritis, Jastremski taught kinesiology at IU. In 1986 he returned to the pool, spending five seasons as head coach of the Indiana women’s program. In 1991 he re-opened his family medicine practice.

In 1977 Jastremski was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in 1983 the IU Athletics Hall of Fame. He went into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

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Author: Jason Marsteller

Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

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