Habits die hard for Hillsborough resident Jerry Katz, a former All-American high school and college swimmer, and that includes winning.
Katz, whose familiar face is regularly seen at the Hillsborough Family YMCA pool, hasn't stopped competitive swimming—even at the age of 75.
Earlier this summer, Katz competed at the international Pan American Masters Championships in Sarasota, Fla., with more than 2,000 swimmers, winning a silver medal in the 50 breaststroke, a bronze medal in the 50 butterfly and placed in the top five in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle. The championships, held June 1-13, included top master swimmers from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and the United States. It was the first time ever that the international meet was held in the US.
He followed that up by traveling to Cleveland to compete with more than 10,000 athletes in the national Senior Olympics—adding a gold medal in the 50-yard freestyle in his age group as well as in the 100 freestyle and the 50 butterfly.
He also won silver in the 50 and 100 breaststroke and a bronze in the 200 freestyle.
“Swimming is the kind of sport you can continue in no matter what your age and gain the healthy benefits of exercise," Katz said. "Swimming positively contributes to my mental health as well as my physical health.”
Katz swam competitively in high school and college, and never lost his zeal for the water. He continues to train regularly at the Hillsborough Family YMCA branch of the Somerset Valley YMCA, where he is a lifeguard, a coach and an instructor.
He not only swims, he also trains out of the pool in the weight room as well as takes classes such as yoga and stretching.
Whether swimming, coaching or teaching classes, he motivates and encourages other swimmers.
“Jerry is a terrific role model for all of our swimmers,” Lisa Slover, Hillsborough Family YMCA aquatics director, said. “He brings his broad knowledge in aquatics to our swimmers in the classes he teaches as well as encourages members to continue a lifetime of fitness in the pool.
"We are very proud to have him on our staff,” she added.
Katz is a long-time member of the Garden State Masters Swimming, which trains adults 18 and over.
Katz said he has no plans to hang up his cap and goggles anytime soon.
“Doing well is very satisfying, and I plan on continuing to swim and compete as long as possible,” he said. “It keeps me healthy.”
The Somerset Valley YMCA has a comprehensive aquatics program in Hillsborough and at its two branches in Bridgewater and Somerville. It offers a variety of swim classes that allow children to have fun while developing confidence and learning life-saving water skills as well as classes for adults.
The Y is also the home of the five-time state-championship Somerset Valley YMCA swim team.
For more information about our aquatics program or any other program, visit the Somerset Valley YMCA website.