December 26, 2003 at 10:18 a.m.
The Chisago City resident has been doing it for years. From as far as Tucson Arizona to San Antonio, Texas, to local events in Duluth and Rochester, very few things slow the man down, especially not age.
“In 1990, I went to a swim meet to see what they did and I said to myself, I can do that,” smiled Berg. “I like swimming, it’s really added years to my life.”
That it has. When Berg checked out swimming in 1990, he was 76 years old. In 1991, at the young age of 77, Berg entered his first competition, winning his first medal in Tucson Arizona. He’s been at it ever since, now with over 150 medals on his wall...and still counting.
After suffering a stroke in 1986, Berg turned to swimming to work his body back in shape. Berg swam at Chisago Lakes High School for years before moving to Hazelden, where he swims 400 yards twice a week at their Cork Center. Berg calls Hazelden his second home.
“I went out for swimming in high school in 1931 or 1932, and I didn’t make the team,” remembers Berg. “Once I had my stroke, I started to get more serious about it.”
Berg says he didn’t even start lap swimming until after his stroke, now the ageless marvel swims the 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 100 breaststoke, and 50 freestyle.
Even Berg himself modestly admits that he’s become a role model with his refusal to give into his age.
“If I must say so myself, I’m a role model for a lot of other people,” remarked Berg. “They can’t understand how I can keep on doing it. I’ve gotten a lot of people into the sport. I just don’t know where I would be without it, I’d probably be dead.”
For his sake, and ours, we hope Berg has several years and hundreds of laps still ahead of him.