Aina Berg was Sweden’s top 100m freestyle swimmer during the first half of the 1920s. She was a member of Gothenburg SK Najaden, a swimming club which had been set up in 1917.
Aina Berg was born in Gothenburg in 1902. She came from a large family and had five siblings.
Before the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp selection competitions were held in Stockholm, which also served as national championship races. Several of the SK Najaden swimmers were sent to compete and some of the female swimmers, including Aina Berg, were deemed good enough to be sent to Belgium. Sweden competed in several sports at the Olympic Games and won the bronze medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay race. Given that only three teams entered the race the result was perhaps not that remarkable. The Swedish team comprised Aina Berg, Jane Gylling from SK Najaden, Emy Machnow from Malmö Simsällskap, and the 17-year-old Carin Nilsson from Stockholm Kappsimningsklubb.
The first official so-called female Olympics were held in the spring of 1922 and opened with swimming competitions held in Monte Carlo. Svenska Simförbundet (the Swedish swimming association) sent five swimmers to the races, of which one was Aina Berg. She won the 100m freestyle final, beating her countrywoman Carin Nilsson. Aina Berg also competed in the Swedish relay team, which triumphed in the freestyle relay race.
Aina Berg once again represented Sweden at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. The Swedish team won the bronze medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay race again; this time there were six competing teams. The Swedish team comprised Wivan Pettersson from Eskilstuna Simsällskap, Gurli Ewerlund from Malmö Simsällskap, and the Gothenburg swimmer Hjördis Töpel in addition to Aina Berg.
Aina Berg won many national competitions. She won the national championships in 100m freestyle in 1912, 1922, 1925, and 1926. From 1921 to 1923 she held the Swedish 100m record with a time of 1:19.7. Aina Berg came second in the 100m race of the 1923 swimming competitions held as part of Sveriges Idrottsspel (Swedish games) in Gothenburg. She was beaten in the sprint by her club mate Hjördis Töpel. In 1925 Aina Berg easily won the so-called Älvsborgssimningen, a 2000m swim in which Hjördis Töpel had beaten her the previous years. Aina Berg went on to win this particular competition in 1926 and 1927. That women were permitted to compete on such long distances can be considered surprising given the time’s perception of women’s limited ability to perform physically at an advanced level.
Several of the female swimmers in SK Najaden were members of GS Widar. This was a physical training society established around 1920 to practise athletics, namely 60m runs and 60m relay races, during the summer months. Female swimmers also partook in these exercises, as well as in the early days of women’s football in Gothenburg, which at the time was seen purely as entertainment. SK Najaden had a team which played at a public women’s football match held in 1924, and Aina Berg was the goalie.
Aina Berg got married and had children in 1928 and this brought an end to her career as a swimmer. She later worked as a model, cleaner and steward on the Svenska Amerika Liniens vessels.
Aina Berg died in Gothenburg in 1992. She is buried at the Västra cemetery in Gothenburg.