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Six months later, the Boston Globe’s Shira Springer posted a follow-up in this week’s Sunday edition.Springer travelled to the coach’s former neighborhood.The article is filled with quotes from former Bernal swimmer and USA Swimming board member David Berkoff.Berkoff, who swam in the Olympics and won a gold medal while training with him, said that while he stood by USA Swimming’s process, that “the allegations…are not characteristic of what I saw as an athlete”.Neighbors reported that Bernal left abruptly, seemingly overnight last November.The timing of his departure coincided with a USA Swimming investigation into Bernal that would ultimately leave him banned for life.Berkoff went on to recollect to Springer how Bernal “helped instill a quality work ethic and ability to dream in me.” but that “obviously, there are other people who didn’t have a good relationship and experience with him and that’s unfortunate.” During the ASCA (American Swim Coaches Association) clinic two weeks ago, we asked Executive Director John Leonard about Bernal’s presence in the association’s hall of fame.A S6 classified disabled swimmer for US Paralympics, Claire specialized in mid-distance freestyle and backstroke and made national and world rankings throughout her career. Claire is passionate about integrating disability swimming into the larger swim community, having swam for able-bodied club teams and her college’s DIII team.
The only competitive swimmer in her family, Claire went to her first swim meet at the age of eleven on a whim without even knowing what a swim cap was.She fell in love with the sport and never looked back.Over 13 years after her first meet, she’s happy to report she now owns more swim caps than she can count.When USA Swimming brought its hammer down on Joe Bernal this past February, banning him permanently for life, no one could verify where exactly he was.
Claire Forrest is a recent graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in English.She is currently based in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a freelance writer.