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Six-time NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year George Kennedy recently completed his 28th season as the head coach of the highly successful Johns Hopkins swimming and diving teams. Under Kennedy's leadership, Hopkins has maintained its place as one of the most dominant programs in the nation. He has guided the Blue Jays to a number of impressive finishes at the NCAA Championships, with both the men's and women's teams consistently challenging for the national championship. In April 2013, Kennedy was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Athletic Hall of Fame.
In 28 years at Hopkins with the men's program, Kennedy has compiled a 180-106 (.629) dual meet record, collected 15 conference titles and coached 14 NCAA champions. The Blue Jays have finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships 25 times in Kennedy's 28 seasons and have finished in the top five 13 times. Kennedy was also a part of the 28 consecutive conference titles won by the men's team from 1971 through 1998. That streak is tied for the third-longest streak in any sport in Division III history
In 2013, Johns Hopkins took home a pair of NCAA titles in the 100 Back and 800 Free Relay as the Blue Jays placed fourth at the championship. Ten Blue Jays combined to earn 36 All-America honors at NCAAs as the Jays turned in their highest finish since 2008 (2nd). For the second consecutive year, JHU went 8-1 in dual meets with its lone loss in each season coming at the hands of the Navy Midshipmen.
Hopkins turned in an 8-1 dual-meet record and would tie for sixth place at the 2012 NCAA Championship. Nine Blue Jays combined to earn 27 All-America honors in 2012 and JHU took home a pair of bronze medals in the 400 and 800 Free Relays. In 2011, the Blue Jays posted a 6-2 dual meet record, finished second at the Bluegrass Mountain Conference championship and ninth at the NCAAs as JHU swimmers combined for 26 All-America honors.
As head coach of the women's program, Kennedy has compiled a dual meet record of 156-138-2 (.530) while collecting nine conference titles, including three straight titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. The Blue Jay women have finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships 17 times during his tenure, including three top-five finishes. Prior to Kennedy's arrival, the Blue Jay women had never finished in the top 10 and had finished in the top 20 just twice.
Hopkins claimed its first ever NCAA relay title in 2013 as Sarah Rinsma, Taylor Kitayama, Alex Ladd and Ana Bogdanovski came from behind to win the 800 Free Relay title in a school-record time of 7:19.14. It was the program's third overall NCAA title and first since Rocio Lopez won the 100 Fly in 1996. Hopkins tied a program record with its fifth place finish at the NCAA Championship and 10 Blue Jays earned All-America honors.
The Blue Jays claimed their fifth overall Bluegrass Mountain Conference title and second consecutive in 2012 as they won five individual and five relay titles. Kitayama was named the BMC Swimmer of the Year and Kennedy earned coach of the year honors. Hopkins went on to finish in sixth place at the NCAA Championship while eight Jays earned All-America honors.
In 2011, Hopkins won its fourth Bluegrass Mountain Conference championship and freshman Sarah Rinsma was named the Swimmer of the Meet after winning six conference titles - three individual and three relay. The Blue Jays then placed eighth at the NCAA Championship, their highest finish since the 2004 team took home sixth place. Blue Jay swimmers combined to earn 26 All-America honors and tied a program record with 10 conference titles. The team also broke 10 school records and added five pool records to its credit in 2010-11.
In all, Kennedy has coached 17 NCAA Champions, including three at the 2013 NCAA Championships (Dylan Davis 100 Back, Women's 800 Free Relay, Men's 800 Free Relay). During his tenure, he has coached nearly 200 men and women to nearly 1,300 All-America honors.
While the teams' success in the pool has been well-documented, Kennedy has attracted the type of student-athlete that can excel at Hopkins both in the classroom and in the pool. During his tenure at Johns Hopkins, Kennedy and the Blue Jays have recorded numerous awards for academic excellence from the College Swimming Coaches Association, while 12 members of the program have earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors since 1997. In 2013, Taylor Kitayama and Alex Ladd were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, while Ladd was also named the NCAA Elite 89 Award winner for women's swimming. In addition, Daniela Villegas earned a Rhodes Scholarship. In 2009, senior John Kegelman was named a First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American as well as the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for the At-Large Division. Kegelman also earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, making him the seventh swimmer under Kennedy to do so, and was named the ECAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
A 1977 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Kennedy was a four-year letter winner for the Tar Heels and an NCAA Division I qualifier in the 100 yard backstroke. After graduation, Kennedy remained at UNC to earn his master's degree in physical education and serve as an assistant on the Tar Heels' coaching staff. In 1980-81 he became head coach of the men's and women's swimming teams at Gettysburg College, where he compiled an impressive 77-31-2 dual meet record in five seasons.
Kennedy currently resides in Towson, MD, with his wife, Helen. They have two daughters, Catherine, graduate of Mary Washington, and Sarah, a junior at the University of North Carolina.