Tom Stock (USA)
Honor Swimmer (1989)
FOR THE RECORD: WORLD RECORDS: 10 (100m, 200m, 220yd backstroke; relays); AAU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 11 (100m, 200m, 220yd backstroke; relays; AMERICAN RECORDS: 14 (200yd, 220 yd, 100m, 200m backstroke; relays).
Tom Stock may just be the greatest backstroker who never swam in the Olympics, due to prolonged illness before the 1964 Olympic Games. He may have been the smallest backstroker to hold a world record. He weighed in at 130 lbs. and set 10 world records. When he was in his second month of competition at Indiana University, Stock became the first man in history to swim the 200 yard backstroke under 2 minutes. This was a performance that caused his coach, “Doc” Counsilman to put a sign on the locker room door which said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”
This desire and an amazing feel of the water, long arms and a powerful kick, made Tom Stock great in the opinion of his famous coach. To the spectators he looked like he was riding on top of the water from the waist up. This unique buoyancy, plus the fastest arm turnover yet seen in backstroke, took him to 11 National championships, 14 American records and five world records in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 110 yard, 220 yard backstroke and the 400 meter medley relay. For four years he was the World Record holder and “King” of the 200 meter backstroke.
It started just after the Rome Olympics and finished just before Tokyo in 1964. In between, he victoriously represented the USA in Japan, South America, and Europe and was The American Swimmer of the Year in 1962. Stock had only two coaches, Dave Stacy at Bloomington, Illinois and “Doc” Counsilman at Bloomington, Indiana. He missed making the 1960 U.S. Olympic team by a judge’s decision. They took only two and not three as chosen in previous Olympics.