Phillips receives state honor

Jim Phillips displays the eight gold medals he earned at the recent South Dakota State Senior Games in Watertown. That effort helped him receive the South Dakota State Senior Games Outstanding Athlete award for 2018.

Courtesy photo

DEADWOOD — Deadwood resident Jim Phillips added another honor to his resume when he received the South Dakota State Senior Games Outstanding Athlete award for 2018.

Phillips collected 19 gold medals for the 2018-19 year while entering a total of 24 events. 

He won eight gold medals at the recent State Games in Watertown to complement an 11-gold-medal count in Sioux Falls the previous year. 

All of Phillips’ gold medals occurred in swimming events. The Watertown listing featured the 100-meter freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle (state record), 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, and 100 individual medley.

Phillips’ gold medals in Sioux Falls came in the 100-meter freestyle (state record), 200 freestyle (state record), 500 freestyle, 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 50 breaststroke (state record), 100 breaststroke (state record), 200 breaststroke (state record), 50 butterfly (state record), and 100 individual medley (state record).

He wanted to win six gold medals in Watertown. 

True to form, the 73-year-old Phillips was greatly humbled and chooses to focus on a much larger picture.

“My greatest goal is to be a role model for my family and my former students,” Phillips said. 

He received notification from the board president of his honor. 

The criteria are not certain, but Phillips said it may be determined by who earned the most gold medals in a single Senior Olympics.

Phillips has competed in State Senior Games events for 19 years: not all consecutively.

“I did my first run in Rapid City when I was 55,” Phillips said. Back in 2000, that was the minimum age.

What does he enjoy the most about the Games?

“I just like to go out and see how I can do against my peer group,” he said. “The competition is the big thing.”

It gives Phillips an incentive to work out and serve as a role model for his children and


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