NAPOLI, Italy — Katharine Berkoff keeps finding new pools to win in.
The recent Missoula Hellgate High School graduate claimed gold in the 100-meter backstroke at the World University Games, twice setting a meet record in the event. Berkoff will swim for North Carolina State next school year, which allowed her to compete in the games for the first time.
Berkoff immediately broke the meet record in the prelims, touching the wall in 59.57 seconds. That clipped the old record set by Russia’s Anastasia Zueva in 2013 at 59.83 seconds.
The record lasted only one day until Berkoff broke it again in the 100-backstroke finals. Berkoff trailed future NC State teammate Elise Haan halfway through the race but surged to the lead after the turn at the far wall. The reigning National High School Coaches Association girls swimmer of the year finished in 59.29 seconds, with Haan not far behind in second at 59.62 seconds.
Berkoff also finished fourth in the 50-meter backstroke a couple of days later, touching the wall in 28.57 seconds.
The 16-time Montana state champion’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Her record time of 59.29 is the 16th fastest in the world so far this year.