Mark Bernardino completed his 35th season as the head coach of the Virginia men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs in 2013, the longest tenured head coach in UVa history. He has overseen the Cavalier program for 27 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships including six consecutive years on both the men’s and women’s side, both ACC swimming and diving records. He holds the record for most men’s titles in conference history with 16 and has the second-most women’s crowns in ACC history with 11.
UVa’s rich tradition in the pool extends far past the conference realm. Bernardino has guided at least one Cavalier to every Summer Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games, including 2012 in London, when five current, former and incoming student-athletes competed – Katya Bachrouche (Lebanon), Yannick Kaeser (Switzerland), David Karasek (Switzerland), Matt McLean (United States) and Lauren Perdue (United States).
McLean and Perdue joined former UVa and American swimming standouts Ed Moses and Melanie Valerio in a class unlike any other – Olympic gold medalists. McLean was a member of the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay, while Perdue was a part of the women’s relay in the same event. Moses earned gold with the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay in 2000 in Athens, while Valerio won gold with the women’s 4x100m free relay in 1996 in Atlanta. Moses also took home silver in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke in Athens.
With the five Cavaliers in 2012, Bernardino has now coached 12 student-athletes to compete at the Olympic level, including Bachrouche and Karasek, who set national records for their respective countries at the London Games. Bachrouche set a new Lebanese record in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, while Karasek broke his own Swiss record in the men’s 200-meter individual medley.
In addition to Olympians, current and former Cavaliers have competed in the World University Games, the Pan American Games, the Pan Pacific Games and the World Swimming Championships. Bernardino was selected as the men’s coach for the USA 2009 World University Games squad, where the U.S. team won four gold, seven silver and one bronze.
Bernardino has tutored 98 individual All-Americans (earning 205 citations), 124 All-American relays and four NCAA Champions who have won a total of six individual national titles. On the men’s side, McLean won the 500-yard freestyle in 2011, Moses grabbed the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events in 2000 and Shamek Pietucha took home the 200-yard butterfly in 1999. Cara Lane captured the women’s 1,500-meter free in 2000 and the 1,650-yard free in 2001.
Under Bernadino’s guidance, 18 student-athletes have earned ACC Swimmer of the Year honors for a total of 26 times. Sixteen first-years have taken home the ACC Freshman of the Year award. Furthermore, Bernardino has been named the ACC Coach of the Year 31 times, 18 on the men’s side and 13 on the women’s.
Bernardino has also turned the programs into academic successes in the classroom. The women’s team has been named a Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) All-Academic squad 19 consecutive years and the men have been honored 13 times in that span. He has coached four CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, 13 ACC Scholar-Athletes of the Year and 19 ACC Post-Graduate Scholarship winners.
Bernardino is a former president of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), serving in that capacity from 2009-11. He has been a featured clinician at three NCAA Youth Education Through Sports clinics, and his summer camp in Charlottesville is regarded as one of the nation’s best at teaching techniques and mechanics.
In 2012, Bernardino aided the U.S. men’s national team as an assistant coach at the Pan-American Games. In the summer of 2001, he served as the head coach of the USA World University Games Team in Beijing, China. He led the USA to a competition-best 17 medals, including seven gold.
Bernardino was selected by USA Swimming as an assistant coach for the 2000 men’s United States National Junior Team, which competed in the 2000 Mare Nostrom International Competition in Barcelona, Spain. He served as head coach for the East squad at the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival and was an assistant at the 1986 Festival.
Bernardino is also a longtime member of the U.S. National Team coaching staff and has been a panelist for the CSCAA top-25 poll. In 1996, Bernardino was named an advisory coach for the U.S. Olympic Team. He also served as a member of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Committee from 2000-04, a prestigious appointment.
Bernardino received his bachelor’s degree from UVa’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1974. After two years as a sales representative for Procter & Gamble, he returned to Virginia in 1976 and served as an assistant coach for the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons. He earned a master’s degree in counseling from the Curry School of Education in 1978 before his appointment as head coach.
Bernardino had an exemplary swimming career at Virginia, graduating with six program records and earning the 1974 UVa Male Athlete of the Year Award. He qualified for three NCAA Championships and the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Bernardino is a member of the University of Virginia Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame, the Delaware County (Pa.) Hall of Fame and the Cardinal O’Hara High School (Pa.) Hall of Fame. He was honored in May of 2010 by the University of Virginia as one of three recipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, presented to individuals for excellence of character and service to humanity.
In 2010, the Raven Society, UVa’s oldest honorary society, presented Bernardino with the Raven Award, the society’s highest honor given to an individual for excellence in service and contribution to the University of Virginia.
Bernardino and his wife, Terry, have two daughters, Kathleen and Megan, and two sons, Michael and Kevin. They reside in Charlottesville.