Coach Joe Bernal

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2015 ASCA Hall of Fame Inductee

Harvard Men’s Swimming & Diving;
Bernal’s Gator Swim Club

For more than 45 years, Joe Bernal has been synonymous with swimming excellence. An NYU graduate, Bernal began his coaching career at Fordham University, where he took a downtrodden program to seven consecutive Metropolitan Collegiate Swimming Championships and broke every Fordham Record as Head Coach. He was inducted into the Fordham University Hall of Fame in 2009.

From 1977 to 1991, Coach Bernal lead Harvard Men’s Swimming and Diving team for 14 years. During that time, he led The Crimson to 7 Ivy League titles and produced over 40 NCAA Collegiate Division I “All Americans” and two National Swimming Champions. Through innovation and creativity, he revolutionized the 5th stroke with the dolphin kick. He pioneered and refined the use of the dolphin kick for strokes, starts, turns and zones.

Coach Bernal was on the Olympic coaching staff in both 1984 and 1988, and the Head Coach for the Pan American Games in 1991. In all, Joe Bernal has coached five Olympians: Bob Hackett (1976), David Berkoff (1988, 1992), Ray Brown (1992), Ray Carey (1996), and Scott Jaffe (1992).

Coach Bernal then went on to coach the Bernal’s Gator Swim Club where he established it as one of New England’s most successful comprehensive swim program to develop and train young athletes, as well as prepare them for future athletic opportunities and acceptance at major universities.

Overall, Coach Bernal’s coaching accomplishments consist of:

  • 46 New England Senior Championships
  • 42 New England Age Group Championships
  • 6 Junior National Team Championships
  • 51 Olympic Trial Qualifiers
  • 5 Olympic Team members
  • 6 Olympic Medals
  • 8 American Records
  • 7 World Records