Jim Berk wrote yet another success story last month at the Michigan Senior Olympics.
The West Bloomfield resident won three gold medals and one silver medal swimming in four events at Oakland University, giving him 15 golds, three silvers and one bronze over six years.
He’s been in 19 events and won a medal in each one of them.
Berk’s most recent golds came in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and his silver was in the 100-yard individual medley in the 60-64 age group.
The IM consists of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle legs.
Thanks to his medal haul last month, Berk, 64, qualified for the 17th National Senior Games next June in Albuquerque, N.M., where he plans to compete in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Back in 2015, Berk won a silver medal in the 100 breaststroke and placed sixth in the 50 breaststroke in the National Senior Games in Minneapolis.
While he’s excited about adding to his Michigan Senior Olympics medal collection, Berk is equally pumped about how he did in a 5-kilometer (3.11-mile) competitive swim last month in Halfmoon Lake in the Pinckney Recreation Area.
It was his first open water competitive swim.
“My goal was to finish the lake swim in less than two hours, and I did it,” he said. “My time was one hour, 51 minutes and 20 seconds. It was exhilarating, but the last mile was challenging. I could feel my arms getting tired.”
It wasn’t a windy morning, Berk said, so the current didn’t pose many problems.
“But the water wasn’t clear. It was murky,” he said. “I did mostly breaststroke; I could see where I was going. I saw swimmers doing freestyle veer off the course.”
Even though it was a long day — he got up at 4:30 a.m. so he could be at Halfmoon Lake in plenty of time for the 8 a.m. start of the race — Berk said he’d do another competitive lake swim.
And he’s considering adding lake swimming to his training regimen.
“Anything that’s difficult to do can help you,” he said.
Berk is a familiar face and voice to Detroit sports fans.
As a sports broadcaster, he’s worked for every local TV station except Channel 7, done morning drive-time sports broadcasts on WWJ Newsradio 950, and called play-by-play for University of Detroit basketball games on the radio.
He still does a show on the Detroit Tigers on Comcast cable.
Berk transitioned to a new full-time career 18 years ago. He’s a personal trainer and exercise teacher, doing much of his work in retirement homes.
The National Senior Games is a 19-sport, biennial competition for men and women age 50 and older. It’s the largest multi-sport event in the world for seniors.
Member organizations of the National Senior Games Association like Michigan Senior Olympics hold qualifying competitions in the year preceding each National Senior Games.
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