Paul Bergen (USA/CAN)
Honor Contributor (1998)
FOR THE RECORD: THREE TIME OLYMPIC GAMES: Assistant Swimming Coach (1980 USA, 1984 & 1988 CAN); Coach of seven swimmers who held 12 World Records; Coach of six Olympic swimmer medalists; Four time WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Assistant Swimming Coach (1975, 1978, 1982 USA & 1986 CAN); Coach of six World Championship medalists; Won 29 U.S. National Championships and 12 Canadian Championships; 1986 COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Assistant Coach (CAN); Two National Collegiate Women’s Championships (AIAW); Coach of six swimmers on Pan American Teams (1971, 1983 USA & 1987 CAN); Coach of 18 Pan Pacific Championship Team members.
Home brewed in Wisconsin, this is the coach who made Milwaukee famous for he and his family. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he took his physical education degree and coupled with his instinctive ability in working with youngsters, became one of the most successful swimming coaches of his time. Everywhere he coached his swimmers and teams have been successful. After coaching high school, he became the founding coach of the famed Cincinnati Marlins. Under his tutelage, the Marlins won 6 U.S. National Championships. His career continued with one year stints each at his alma mater and the Philadelphia Aquatic Club. Paul then established the Nashville Aquatic Club in 1975, winning 2 National Championships. Next stop for the champion maker was the University of Texas as coach of the women’s team and, the Longhorn Aquatic Club where he developed the National Champions and 2 Collegiate Championship teams. During these years, his swimmers included world record holders Alice Jones, Deana Deardurff, Jenny Kemp, Joan Pennington, Jill Sterkel, and Hall of Famers Kim Linehan and the great Tracy Caulkins. His success continued as he headed North to Etobicoke Swim Club in Ontario, Canada. Again Bergen developed champions and championship teams, winning 13 times in 6 years. There have been very few coaches who have developed international level athletes at the grass-roots, club level as Paul has. His young swimmer Alison Higson went on to set the 200m breaststroke World Record at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 1988.
Paul was the first swimming coach to use the training methods of race horses and apply them to swimming. He would visit the Woodbine Race Track near Toronto observing how race horses performed and trained and then use these methods in the pool on his swimmers. Eventually, as Paul’s interest in race horses increased, he began training them too. Then, many of his swim training ideas could also be applied to horse training.
Paul demanded 100% effort from his athletes in all aspects of training, conditioning, diet and concentration. His home grown swimmers won 2 Olympic gold medals and 4 bronze, set 12 World Records, won 16 World Championship medals including 9 golds in 1978, 20 Commonwealth Games medals and 6 collegiate championships. He served as Olympic Games coach 3 times, World Championships coach 4 times and one time as Commonwealth Games coach. He was a 2 time ASCA Coach of the Year, Collegiate Coach of the Year and Canadian Coach of the Year. There are hundreds of reasons to justify Paul Bergen’s position as a Hall of Fame coach–check the record books.