USA Swimming bans former Harvard, Fordham coach for life

May 3, 2016

BOSTON (AP) Former Harvard and Fordham swim instructor Joe Bernal has been banned from coaching for life by USA Swimming, which says he violated sexual misconduct policies adopted to protect athletes.

The organization issued the ban on Feb. 23 for alleged violations of code-of-conduct policies. The ban was first reported Monday by Swimming World magazine.

USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman declined to provide details of the alleged violations, but he said in a statement that the organization is ''deeply committed to the safety and welfare of all its members.'' He referenced its ''safe sport program'' and its mission to ''increase awareness to reduce the risk of abuse in sport.'' According to an outline of the safe sport program, its internal investigation process is initiated after staff receives a complaint.

A phone number listed for Bernal wasn't in service Tuesday. He didn't immediately return an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.


Liz Vlock, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, said in an email that the office would not confirm or deny whether there were pending investigations of Bernal.

Bernal founded Bernal's Gator Swim Club of New England in 1969. The club changed its name to Gator Swim Club earlier this year.

Bernal began his coaching career at Fordham, where he was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2009. He coached at Harvard from 1977 to 1991 and was named Ivy League coach of the year seven times.

He also coached Olympic medalists Bobby Hackett and David Berkoff.