North’s Javier Bernal is the HSGametime Boys Swimmer of the Year
By Gabriel Rizk
When Riverside North swimming coach Jesse Paulos was looking for an award to give four-year standout Javier Bernal at the Huskies recent end-of-the-season banquet, he found the only fitting solution was to create one.
In a play on the senior’s last name, Paulos introduced the “Berner” award to honor the program’s top swimmer of the year.
In this case it doubled as sort of a career achievement award for a record-setting athlete who had just captured his third straight CIF-SS Division 3 title in the 200-yard individual medley, which is arguably the most challenging event and certainly the truest test of a swimmer’s versatility.
“It’s hard to speak to just this year because what he’s done over the last four years is incredible,” Paulos said. “He’s one of a kind. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a swimmer of his caliber. He’s changed the culture of swimming at North High School.”
In addition to the unprecedented three straight titles, Bernal leaves North with school records in the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly and came close to breaking multiple freestyle events.
“All the hard work that I put into it just finally paid off,” Bernal said.
Really, Bernal’s hard work combined with exceptional talent had been paying dividends throughout his prep run. But entering senior year he committed laser-like focus to defending his medley title.
He decided up front that he would not attend the state meet, which he had both of the previous years since its inception in 2015. By identifying the Division 3 finals as his last high school meet he ensured he would be able to leave it all in the RCC pool.
“I didn’t plan on going to state so I knew just to give it my all at CIF,” said Bernal, who won the event in a state-automatic and […]