Fortune lists JHU swim coach Kennedy among The Worlds 50 Greatest Leaders
He has won DIII national coach of year honors seven times in 29 seasons
What does Johns Hopkins swimming coach George Kennedy have in common with Pope Francis, Bono, and the Dalai Lama?
They all madeFortunemagazines list ofThe Worlds 50 Greatest Leaders, which was published last week.
Kennedy, 58, just completed his 29th season as coach of the Blue Jays mens and womens swimming teams. He was named Division III coach of the year for the seventh time this past weekend in Indianapolis, Ind., where JHUs womens team finished a program-best third at the NCAA championships. In 29 years, his teams have finished in the top 10 nationally 41 times, and in the top five 16 times.
But, he toldFortune, My four favorite words are We can do better.
Kennedy was the subject of aprofile in the Spring 2013 issues ofJohns Hopkins Magazine, which noted Johns Hopkins swimmers learn that one constant of their coach is his willingness to try anything new that might make them faster.:
Kennedys swimmers follow detailed and color-coded training schedules that change every day and are based on continuous monitoring of the latest sports training research, what other programs are doing, and new ideas discussed on Internet swim sites and discussion boards. Kennedy and his assistant, Nikki Kett, gather data on lap times and stroke rates and race tempos, and forward those data to the swimmers. To swim fast requires strength and endurance, strong muscles and hearts and lungs. But Kennedy will tell you that what matters more is what is in the the athletes heads. Were he to name his method that name could be Head First. Essential to turning a talented high school kid into a fast collegiate swimmer is convincing him or her to believe in Kennedys method. Follow the program and listen to the coaches and you will go faster. To me, the whole person steps up to race, he says. I think the emotional part might be the most important thing. If someone really thinks theyre going to go fast, 90 percent of the time they will.
Kennedy is in distinguished company onFortunes list, where he is joined by a whos who of world leaders, sports icons, war heroes, andthis beingFortuneCEOs. Bill Clinton, Warren Buffet, Derek Jeter, Jeff Bezos, and Angelina Jolie are on the list. So, too, are former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a 1964 Johns Hopkins graduate) and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who, we announced yesterday,will speak at JHUs commencement ceremony this year.
Notably not on the list,The Washington Postpoints outPresident Obama.
Coach George Kennedy trains swimmers bodies. But to really help them go fast, he trains their minds