A backstroker, Dave Berkoff competed at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics in four events, winning medals in all four events, including two gold medals in the medley relay. His international sideboard also includes a silver medal in 100 back from the 1987 Pan American Games and a silver in medley relay at the 1987 Universiade. Berkoff set three world records in the 100 back in the summer of 1988. Two were at the US Olympic Trials and the third was in the heats of the Olympics. He could not repeat that time in the final, taking silver behind Japan’s Daichi Suzuki. Berkoff pioneered a new technique, which was called the “Berkoff Blastoff,” in which he swam as far as he could after each turn underwater. After the Seoul Olympics, the technique was outlawed by FINA, who put a limit on how long backstrokers could spend underwater after the turn.
Berkoff swam at Harvard and then earned a masters’ degree in environmental studies. He later obtained a law degree from the University of Montana. He and his family settled in Missoula where he practiced law. In 2010 he was named to USA Swimming’s Board of Directors. He also supported children’s rights by doing work for the Watson’s Children Shelter in Missoula, which provides shelter and care for neglected or abandoned children. Berkoff was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005.