TC254: George Kennedy, Johns Hopkins Swimming (retired)

Wow! What a way to kick off the new midweek installment of Top Coach. These midweek episodes which will feature non-baseball coaches (mostly). If you’ve got a guest you’d like to hear, please drop us a line.

After 31 years, 24 conference crowns, 7 NCAA Coach of the Year awards, 29 individual national champions, over 1,400 All-Americans, 46 top 10 team finishes, and too much more to list, George Kennedy decided to step down as head coach of the women’s and men’s swimming program at Johns Hopkins — supposedly to retire — after his final season in 2016. Like most coaches, however, Kennedy found retirement a little overrated and has signed on to help friend Brian Loeffler (part time!), just down the street at Loyola Maryland.

In this episode, Coach Kennedy talks about his new part time gig at Loyola Maryland, the fluke occurrence that got him into swimming in the first place, his swimming career and grad coaching at North Carolina, working as the bowling center coordinator at Gettysburg College, learning life skills, bringing in people to talk to the team who are examples of success, his definition of success, the benefit of introspection, leading with compassion, “inside-out coaching”, leadership, and his work with

Notable quotes:

  • “Coaching is trying to work effectively with people — helping them to get from point A to point B in a way that maximizes their potential.”
  • “It wasn’t just the Xs and Os that mattered, but it was the connections between the coaches and the athletes that really helped.”
  • “Do what you need to do to try to get the job done.”
  • “There’s a time and a place to be really intense about a sport.”
  • It’s the whole person that steps up to race.”
  • “When you lead with compassion, you’re even more effective when you’re firm.”
  • To make the big picture work, you’ve got to do the little things that are part of it.”
  • “This is just swimming.”
  • “A lot of people wake up (in the morning) to complain or contribute.”
  • “I think that introspection is one of the best skills I learned through the years.”


Follow Johns Hopkins Swimming on Twitter.
Follow Loyola Maryland Swimming on Twitter.
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photo credit: Johns Hopkins Athletics
Intro Music: Matt’s Blues, Kevin MacLeod (

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