“Bernal’s” No More, Gator Swim Club Formed in Massachusetts

Joe Bernal was a fixture in the New England swimming community for the last several decades. Besides a coaching stint at Harvard, he was also the head coach and owner of Bernal’s Gators Swim Club. This past year, Bernal retired from coaching. He was honored at the most recent American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame induction this past September.

The famed coach gained fame in the 1980s in particular for his coaching of World Record holder (and later USA Swimming board member) David Berkoff. He was also known for coaching another World Record holder, Bobby Hackett in the 1970s.

Last month, we received word that the name of the club would change. We reached out to current team owner Anne Frazier, who made this comment:

“Gator Swim Club was formed on January 27, 2016, when the assets of Bernal’s Gator Swim Club were purchased from Bernal’s Gators Swim Club of New England, Inc.  Gator Swim Club has no relationship to Joe Bernal.  He is not employed by the Club or involved in any of its operations”

Frazier did not comment as to why Bernal’s name had been removed from the club. She also did not comment as to why she specified that Bernal was no longer associated with the club. Thus far we have not been able to get comment from any of the other parties involved.

 

 

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SHARKSANDMINNOWS
5 years ago

I swam for Coach Bernal for 4 years as a teen. Sorry to see someone trying to ruin his life. I never saw any inappropriate conduct by Coach only true LOVE for all his team. INNOCENT !!!

tinymorals
6 years ago

Looks like they bought a sinking ship. The word is mass exodus to other programs once the summer program finishes. Why does NE swim still allow their call letters to be BGSC? The other word is gators did not tell anyone of his problems until registrations were completed, so all these people were already locked in for a year!

Swim Dad
Reply to  tinymorals
6 years ago

This doesn’t surprise me, that team in my opinion always had so much bs and manipulation that’s why my family left. Sounds like the new owners are continuing that tradition!! Guess Joe taught them well, or maybe it directly came from Joe to his “new owners”??

Good question about the call letters. I heard they kept them so that there swimmers would not have to be unattached, since they have a new team name with new owners, that’s how they got around that rule, which in my opinion is not right since it is a new team. Sounds like they will do what it takes to keep Joe Bernal’s legacy going and keep that money rolling in to ultimately pay… Read more »

Gator for life
Reply to  tinymorals
5 years ago

Team is currently running with a waiting list of over 50 people. Anyone that asked for a refund after Coach Bernal being banned was given one. Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated for half a century now.

Nick
6 years ago
Mike Foley
Reply to  Nick
6 years ago

Coach Bernal has spent a lifetime coaching swimmers with great distinction, from his days at Fordham, where I had the honor of being coached by him in the 1970’s,to Harvard and the Gator Seim Club. Coach did do without a hint of scandal. Now there is a lot of innuendo without factual support that I have heard on this site. Give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Why do people love to tear people down? Attorney Mike Foley

Swim Dad
Reply to  Mike Foley
6 years ago

So since he coached many swimmers with great distinction, that makes up for his “allegations” that got him banned from USA Swimming? Wow, and you are a lawyer thinking and saying this. Do you use this argument in court? Well your honor he only made one bad mistake but he made thousands of correct and distinct actions that should wipe away his one bad mistake that maybe harmed others. Geez….. One mistake is one too many, and who knows how many Coach Bernal made since USA Swimming does not release any specifics. People need to stop drinking the Bernal kool-aid and realize that he is banned for those reasons listed by USA Swimming.
Non Attorney Swim Dad

Concern mom
6 years ago

As a parent of of a new member of this new “Gator Swim Team”, this is the first I’ve heard of any of this… It’s all very distressing. I now have a little boy swimming in the club and I have no way of finding out what had happened in the past, and what’s being done for the future, short of directly asking the current owner I guess.

Coach
6 years ago

The truth will eventually come out about Joe. The truth may surprise some obviously but not others. Many know the truth about this man and still support him and even his “former” team which is disturbing. Just because you know him professionally for 40 years doesn’t really mean that you really know him.

Coach
Reply to  Coach
6 years ago

I know I wish USA Swimming could disclose more details than just the article numbers. But people who are supporting Joe and his “former” team do know more details from what I have heard on the pool deck. Yet they continue to promote Joe and his former team as is just without “Bernal” attached to it. Those people try to blame others for Joe’s investigation just to save the current team which is more than sad and really disgusting in my opinion. It’s only a matter of time before more know the truth about that man. Only Joe’s actions brought him to this point. I commend all those victims who are strong enough to stand up and fight for what… Read more »

Coach
Reply to  Coach
6 years ago

All those victims in all of the cases of USA Swimming not just in Joe’s case. Interesting though that many know of the one victim and who that is. Maybe it’s just the one victim who was strong enough to report him. Again people are trying to cover up for Joe’s actions by saying so many lies and trying to blame others for his behavior even when they know the truth. The manipulation and lies continue. Whatever it takes to keep that team running as is. That team is Joe’s life, more important to him than anything else in this world, and his huge ego wants it to continue forever. I can only guess that’s why the new owners did… Read more »

Stephanie
6 years ago

Bernal’s inappropriate behavior is no secret to parents, coaches and swimmers in New England . Shame on NE Swimming for turning a blind eye for all these years. NE Swimming should have acted to protect their swimmers……swimmers and their families deserved better!

Ricky Del
Reply to  Stephanie
6 years ago

NE swim hasn’t had many of these issues in the past, at least for as long as I’ve been involved. I never swum under Bernal, but the way many of my former coaches spoke of him, you got the feeling something was up over there in Dracut. They seemed to respect him greatly as a coaching mind at meets and on the pool deck, but I’m not too sure if that carried over to the alleged illicit activities benral was doing.

Benjamin Allen
6 years ago

From what I hear up here in Massachusetts, Benral is INDEED unfortunately involved in legal issues of these nature. I have sources close to the info than confirm this, again, I’m not making any sort of accusation, this is just from what I have heard.

Robert
Reply to  Benjamin Allen
6 years ago

So per comments Joe Bernal is being investigated / involved in legal issues, and he sold the team in mid season. Then other people must know what is going on, this is too big to have another Olympic coach in this situation. And to sell the team in mid season, what does that tell you, rush to get out and sell. Why would the new owners then want to keep the name Gators and his traditions and team going by just taking “Bernal” off the name with all else staying the same? Who in there right mind would want to represent and promote that? I would also assume with new owners then new pool contract, why then would Bentley, where… Read more »

Interesting
6 years ago

Interesting, so maybe there is some truth to some of these earlier posts. I haven’t seen any other articles so I guess we have to wait as this story unfolds. It seems that the swimmers and current coach’s did a tremendous job in Coach Bernal’s absence though. I see that the current head coach is not a new owner, but another coach was chosen who coaches another team. This seems conflicting unless they are going to merge? And per Anne Frazier’s quote in the story, Gator Swim Club has no relationship to Joe Bernal, so new team, new owners, etc…, but they want to keep the teams history that Coach Bernal established? So why not keep the name Bernal’s Gator… Read more »

About Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis is a swim coach, writer and swimming enthusiast. Chris does private consulting and coaching with teams and individuals. You can find him at www.facebook.com/cdswimcoach. Chris is a 2009 Graduate from the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first professional athletic coach …

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