Strap on your goggles for the wild, and until now untold, story of an iconic but now disgraced Harvard University swim coach named Joe Bernal. He mentored legendary swimmer David Berkoff, inventor of the revolutionary “Berkoff Blastoff” underwater backstroke start. Bernal himself was on U.S. Olympic team staffs in 1984 and 1988, and was inducted into three Halls of Fame — all this before his lifetime achievement honors were rescinded after he was banned by USA Swimming for multiple episodes of sexual abuse.
On Oct. 1, Bernal reportedly died in Florida at age 82…. [His] reputational demise of Joe Bernal is yet another chapter in global competitive swimming’s tawdry, tangled tale of coaches, whether famous or obscure, who prey on youth athletes.
Bernal’s chapter proves at least one other thing: Shakira isn’t the only Colombian expatriate with cross-border legal problems. Salon’s investigation shows that Bernal fled to the South American nation for, at minimum, a 13-month period in 2015 and 2016, using a newly acquired Colombian passport under the name Hugo Bernard Calderon. He disclosed as much to a Florida court five years ago, explaining that was also the name on his Colombian birth certificate.