Former ECC breaststroke record-holder Troy Hosmer weighs in on Fitch's Nowak leaving his own mark

When Fitch/Stonington's Pat Nowak broke the 100-yard breaststroke record at the Eastern Connecticut Conference swimming championship in March and was later named The Day’s 2017 All-Area Swimmer of the Year, I had questions for former record-holder Troy Hosmer of Waterford.

Hosmer originally set the mark in 1989, finishing in 1 minute, 1.47 seconds. Nowak, a junior at Stonington High School, surpassed that, winning this year’s title in 1:01.38.

What does swimming the breaststroke entail and why was that the longest standing ECC record, with most of the others being broken and rebroken time after time since 1989? I couldn’t find Hosmer, a retired Coast Guardsman who now lives in San Francisco, quick enough to quote him in Nowak’s Swimmer of the Year story.

But I talked to him this week. And he had been thinking about his answers since finding out Nowak, who also comes from a military background — his dad, Brian is a Navy commander — was finally the one to knock him from the record books.

Hosmer went on to swim at the Coast Guard Academy, always swam no matter where his career took him, including a stint in Honolulu in a masters program run by former Olympian Rowdy Gaines.

“Breaststrokers are probably a little crazier than most other swimmers,” Hosmer said. “It’s probably one of the more technical strokes. There’s a lot of moving parts (arms and legs). You can’t just muscle your way through the breaststroke; there’s a combination of power and finesse.”

Hosmer referenced Mike Barrowman, a former teammate of his in club swimming who went on to be the world record-holder in the 200 breaststroke. Barrowman’s mark of 2:10.16 in that event — set at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona — stood for more than 10 years, another longstanding breaststroke record finally broken in 2002.

Hosmer, 45, retired from the Coast Guard last summer. He formerly served as commander of the cutters Pea Island, Monsoon and Venturous. He and his wife Juliana have one daughter, Hanna, who has started swimming.

Of Nowak’s record, he said, “I think it’s great honestly.”

“The mental piece (of swimming) is hard,” Hosmer said. “If you’re looking for an easy day in the pool, you’re in the wrong sport. (A record) provides some motivation. When someone breaks it, it’s because they worked hard, pushed themselves, feel good about themselves. Hopefully, my record provided some motivation, just like his record will provide motivation for someone else to work hard.”

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