Dr. Chet “the Jet” Jastremski Passes Away
Fort Lauderdale: Dr. Chet Jastremski, a legendary breaststroke swimmer, passed away on May 2, 2014. He was 73 years old. Known in swimming circles as “Chet the Jet,” he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977.
Dr. Chet Jastremski could be compared with the first propeller beating the established paddlewheel. His narrow jump style kick and pull revolutionized breaststroking style. A YMCA butterflyer when he went to Indiana University from Toledo Y, he quickly became the world's premier breaststroker. In 6 weeks of 1961 he lowered the World Record 6 times from 1:11.1 to 1:07.5. One of the great short course yards swimmers, Chet was not eligible for the NCAA Championships because Indiana was on probation. His longevity was one of his greatest accomplishments. His Olympic record was one of continuous misfortune. He missed the 1956 Olympic Team in Melbourne after qualifying first in the Olympic Trial heats and then disqualified on a disputed decision. In 1960 he made the team and was then taken off by the coach. In 1964 he refused to taper and in 1968, while earing his M.D., he allowed too little time for his comeback.
Jastremski received his medical degree from Indian in 1968. He was a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic medical team. He served as a family practice physician in Bloomington, Indiana and frequently visited the Indiana University swim team and spent two years as head coach of the women’s team.
“Growing up in the early 1960’s, I wasn’t alone in wearing nose clips and idolizing ‘Chet the Jet,’ says ISHOF CEO, Bruce Wigo. “He had the coolest name, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and was both a hero and a role model for thousands of young swimmers. He was one of the Greats and will be greatly missed.”
“It was truly an honor to swim for Chet (1986-1990) at Indiana University and learn how to swim the breaststroke,” said Laura Voet, Manager of the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex. “He was very detailed with his constructive criticism. In addition to countless hours working on perfecting the underwater pull, Chet would watch our stroke technique via the underwater window at Royer Pool and from inside the pool! Part of his coaching including watching video footage of Mike Barrowman's breaststroke. Then, at 1988 Big Ten Championship, after countless hours of training and tweaking, Michigan coach Jim Richardson complimented us both on how "beautiful" my breaststroke was. I'll never forget that moment and the resulting appreciative smile from Chet, it meant a lot to him I think as a coach, and me. “
All of us at ISHOF express our deepest condolences to Chet’s family.