Head women’s swim coach relates swimming to life

By Ashley Weyler
December 10, 2004

Lori Iannella

Watch out Michael Phelps! Phelps has nothing on Mike Kernicky, head coach of Cabrini’s women’s swim team. Kernicky has been around the block, the starting block that is.

Born and raised in Folcroft, Pa., Kernicky has been making waves in swimming for the last 40 years. With his best event being the 100 yard butterfly, he received a scholarship for swimming to Rider University. His junior year he transferred to Widener University and completed his college swimming career.

Kernicky is married to Bonnie, with two sons, Michael and John, both following in their father’s footsteps swimming for Villanova University and Malvern Prep High School. He is also the Vice President/Certified Financial Planner/Wealth Management Advisor for Merrill Lynch & Co. Kernicky is also proud of his musical band called “The Shade,” which he has been a member of for the last 20 years.

Kernicky also coaches Norte Dame Academy’s swim team, who practices in the Dixon Center. Since the program has been ranked to varsity status, Kernicky said, “We are consistently one of the best high school swim teams in Delaware County.”

Besides coaching two separate teams at the moment, he is also training to swim in the U.S. Masters meet, which, according to its website, “is a national organization of more than 43,000 members that provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults aged 18 and over.”

Kernicky’s teams always have a quote of the day at each practice. “I try to tie that in with a lesson for the work-out,” Kernicky said. He also surrounds himself with his ex-swimmers as assistant coaches. During the summertime, for the past 11 years, Kernicky coaches the De La Salle Swim Club program, which has gone undefeated in their league for the past nine years. This is where Jennifer Manning met Coach Kernicky. She now is his assistant coach. Manning said that he has always been motivated and enthusiastic as her coach growing up.

Comparing to then and now, over the years not much has changed in her opinion, although ideas and techniques for training are always improving. Comparing coaching the swim club and coaching high school and college-level teams, Manning said, “There is quite a distinction between running after a bunch of eight and unders and dealing with the ladies at the high school and college levels. Doesn’t matter. Kernicky will work it out!”

Kernicky also said that everyday interesting stories happen at practices and meets of the Cabrini swim team. “This year’s team is very eclectic with girls from many different places and they are really starting to bond as a team. That’s always fun to watch!” Kernicky said.

“I try to explain to the swimmers and prospective swimmers that I know how they feel at practice because I was a swimmer, I know how to train them because I’ve been in the sport for more or less 40 years and I know what their parents expect from them because I have my own children who are swimmers and students,” Kernicky said.

Not only is Kernicky an experienced swimmer, he is also an inspirational coach to every team he coaches. He said, “My life is better because of the lessons I learned in sport [swimming], so I try to pass on how that what the swimmers do in the water each day can and will have an effect on how they live, achieve and accomplish things in their lives.”

Posted to the Web by Lori Iannella

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Ashley Weyler

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