David Berkoff Chosen for Philly Sports Hall of Fame

American swimming innovator David Berkoff, famous for his pioneering work in driving the underwater portion of swimming to the importance that it currently has in the sport, has been selected for the 2018 induction class of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

Now living in Montana, the 51-year old Berkoff was born in Abington, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Philadelphia. Berkoff honed his craft in the greater Philadelphia area, including training at the Penn Charter Academy (current training spot of American junior star Reece Whitley), and at the Germantown Academy during the programs heyday where they produced swimmers like Erika Hansen, Dave Wharton, Dean Jorgenson, Katrina Radke, and Sean Killion.

He spent his college years at Harvard, where he used the “Berkoff Blastoff” backstroke start, going 35 or 40 meters underwater to win the 1987 and 1989 NCAA Championships in the 100 yard backstroke. He also won 4 Olympic medals between 1988 and 1992, including 400 medley relay gold in both years, a 100 back silver in 1988, and a 100 back bronze in 1992.

Video of the Berkoff Blastoff:

Outside of the pool, Berkoff served two stints as a member of the USA Swimming Board off Directors, from 1992-1993 and from 2010-2014. Berkoff was also inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 2004 and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005.

He enters in a class with some of the biggest names in the history of professional sports in Philadelphia, including Hall of Fame basketball player Allen Iverson, 1976 NHL goals leader Reggie Leach, the NFL Champion 1948 and 1949 Philadelphia Eagles, and former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook – the team’s all-time leader in yards from scrimmage.

This marks the hall’s 15th class of inductees.

Full Class of 2018 inductees:

  • Allen Iverson, basketball – #1 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, Rookie oft he Year, 4-time NBA scoring leader, 2-time NBA All-Star Game MVP
  • Benny Bass, boxing – World junior lightweight champion in 1929, International Boxing Hall of Fame
  • Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, football – 14-year NFL pro, 3-time Pro Bowler, NFL MVP in 1975
  • Brian Westbrook, football – 8-year Philadelphia Eagle, 2-time NFL Pro Bowler, Eagles’ all-time leader in yards-from-scrimmage
  • Claire Smith, journalist – 2-time Pulitzer Prize winner, ESPN news editor
  • Danny Muraugh, baseball – Former Philadelphia Philly, manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 15 seasons, including 2 World Series titles
  • David Berkoff, Swimming – Two-time NCAA champion, 4-time Olympic medalist
  • Donald Lippincott, Track & Field – 1912 Olympic silver medalist in the 200 meters, bronze medalist in the 100 meters
  • Gavvy Cravath, baseball – Phillies outfielder from 1912-1920, led National League in home runs 6 times.
  • Jamie Moyer, baseball – 25-year Major League Baseball pitcher, 2003 All-Star, won 16 games for the 2008 World Series Champion Phillies
  • Joanna Iverson, rowing – National champion, Penn rowing coach, National Rowing Hall of Fame
  • Louis Santop, baseball – Played 17 seasons in the Negro Leagues, “Black Babe Ruth,” inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006
  • Mel Greenberg, journalist – 40 year writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, created the first women’s college basketball poll in 1976
  • Muffet McGraw, basektball – Head coach at Notre Dame since 1987, winning NCAA titles in 2001 and 2018.
  • 1948, 1949 Philadelphia Eagles – NFL Champions, pitching shut-outs in both championship games.

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Two cents
3 years ago

Berkoff also swam/held records at Hatboro YMCA, and Upper Moreland Swim Club prior to Germantown Academy (to my understanding). Upper Moreland has a pool named after Berkoff.

Old Lobo
3 years ago

This is a well deserved award and Berkoff is certainly the most prominent of early pioneers of backstroke underwaters, but I definitely remember two backstrokers from Iowa using the technique in the 1980 NCAA meet at Harvard. Both did well, and one placed in the top 6 of the 100 back as I recall.

olde coach
Reply to  Old Lobo
3 years ago

Not only an outstanding swimmer and innovator, but a true Ambassador for our sport

Reply to  Old Lobo
3 years ago

Tom Roemer and Steve Harrison I think from Iowa

Johnny Bravo
3 years ago

Allen Iverson

Pacific Spirit
3 years ago

Congratulations, Mr. Berkoff. Well deserved!

bobo gigi
3 years ago
3 years ago

Did Killion ever train at Germantown? My recollection was Jersey Wahoos all the way until he went to Berkeley

Reply to  1001pools
3 years ago

Yes. Killion, Radke, Wharton, Jorgenson,and Berkoff all trained together at Germantown/foxcatcher in 1991-1992.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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