Cyndi Gallagher, one of the top college coaches in America, enters her 25th season as head coach of the UCLA Bruins this fall, having compiled an impressive won-loss record of 146-80-1. An intrinsic part of the UCLA athletic department for the past 30 years as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach, her dedication to UCLA swimming and diving and to her former and current athletes is unparalleled.
A 1983 graduate of UCLA, Gallagher had an illustrious career both as a school record holder for the Bruins and as a USA National Team member. Representing the U.S.A. National Team in Europe, Japan and Australia, she competed at the Olympic Trials in 1976 and 1980 and was a bronze medalist in the 800-meter Freestyle at the 1979 World University Games in Mexico City.
For the Record
Over the years, Gallagher has compiled an enviable record of success. In ten of her 24 years at the helm of UCLA women's swimming, her Bruins have finished among the nation's top ten teams. They've been among the top 15 teams in fifteen of those years.
Known for her strong work ethic and positive attitude, Gallagher leads by example. She inspires her athletes to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams, teaching them to be attentive to detail and to find a way to improve their swimming at every practice session. Gallagher also understands the importance of enjoying swimming and competing, and to embrace the process of becoming a great athlete. Part of being a successful collegiate athlete is learning how to balance all the requirements of being a student-athlete. Part of being a successful person once outside of the swimming world, is learning to do the same. Gallagher believes you can achieve anything you set your mind to, as long as you have the preparation and perspective, and have confidence in your abilities.
She also believes that teamwork and team unity are essential elements for success, citing them as key ingredients in the team's Pac-10 championship seasons of 2001 and 2003.
Reaching Their Potential...
Four years later, Gallagher placed another Bruin in the Olympics when Marilyn Chua, representing Malaysia, swam the 50-meter Free at the Sydney Games. In 2000 and 2004, the Bruins' Malin Svahnstrom represented her native Sweden at the Games, swimming in the 800m Freestyle Relay both times and coming away with a silver medal.
During the summer of 2008, Gallagher guided three athletes to Olympic teams - 2006 graduate Kim Vandenberg, 2009 graduate Nicolette Teo (competing for Singapore in her third Olympic Games) and four-time Olympian Amanda Beard. Vandenberg won a bronze medal as a member of the 800 freestyle relay, while Beard and Teo competed in the breaststroke.
In addition to the Olympics, Gallagher has also placed many UCLA swimmers on international teams, including the World Championships, Pan-Pacific Games, World University Games, Goodwill Games and the Pan-American Games. More than a dozen U.S. and foreign National A and B teams have also featured swimmers coached by Gallagher.
All told, Gallagher has coached more than 70 All-Americans in her 23 years as head coach, and she has made her mark on national and international U.S. coaching staffs as well. She served on the advisory coaching staff for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was selected as assistant coach at the 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2006 World University Games. She also served as assistant coach for the 1995 U.S. National Junior Team that competed in Paris, the 1994 U.S. National Distance Camp, the assistant coach for the Japan International Grand Prix and the 1993 US Olympic Festival. All of that international coaching experience paid off when she was selected to serve as USA's Head Coach at the 2007 World University Games.
During Gallagher's tenure at UCLA, her swimmers have completely rewritten the school record book and 20 different Bruins have won at least one event at the Pac-10 Championships. But it's not just the crème de la crème who thrive under Gallagher's guidance.
Gallagher is also proud of the composition of the team that qualifies for the NCAAs, a team that, more often than not, includes several "walk-ons" who have gone on to be NCAA All-Americans. Bethany Goodwin scored in the 100 Fly and Kristen Lewis was in both the 100 and 200 Fly. Also, Lewis was a semi-finalist at the 2004 Olympic Trials in the 100 and 200 Fly and Goodwin went on to make several U.S. National teams and set a World University Games record while winning the 50 fly.
...and in the Classroom
During her magical senior year in 1996, Salmeen won two Pac-10 titles (100 and 200-yard fly) and was named UCLA Female Athlete of the Year and Alumni Association Outstanding Senior. She also received the NCAA Top VIII Award, presented to only eight NCAA student-athletes annually for excellence in academics and athletics. In addition, Salmeen was a NCAA Woman of the Year finalist. During her Bruin career, she was a two-time team MVP, named the team's hardest worker on three occasions, voted most inspirational twice and graduated with UCLA records in 200 butterfly, 200 free and 500 free. Salmeen graduated from UCLA with honors in chemistry (3.94 GPA) in 1997 and earned her PhD in biochemistry at Oxford in 2001. In October, 2006, Salmeen was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
Along with Salmeen, Keiko Price, Brighed Dwyer, Katie Younglove and Kristen Lewis were also honored with coveted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Katie Younglove was named a Verizon Academic All-American and numerous Bruins have received Pac-10 All-Academic recognition. It's no accident that the Bruin swimmers are consistently represented on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.
Gallagher's ultimate goal in coaching is to have each athlete reach her full potential, both as an athlete and as a person. She is most proud of her former athletes for their accomplishments and contributions to society after graduating from UCLA. Gallagher's swimmers have gone on to earn Masters degrees and PhD's, and to become successful teachers, lawyers, scientists, doctors, engineers, businesswomen, ministers and mothers.
The Last Decade...
2010-2011: Numerous All-American honors were garnered at the NCAA Championships, highlighted by Lauren Hall's record-breaking swims in the 200 IM (7th) and 400 IM (10th), Brittany Beauchan's 200 Breaststroke (10th), Jahanshahi's 200 Butterfly (11th) and Vanden Berge's 12th-place school record swim in the 1650 free. The 800 Free Relay (13th) also earned All-American honors. The season was also highlighted by multiple school record swims: Cynthia Fascella (100 Free), Alex Sullivan (200 Free), Sam Vanden Berge (500, 1650 Free), Lauren Hall (200 and 400 IM) and the 400 Medley and 400 Free Relay and 800 Free Relay. UCLA finished 20th at the NCAA Championships and fourth at the Pac-10 meet.
2009-2010: The Bruins had one of the best meets for individual performances during Gallagher's tenure as head coach. At NCAA's, Brittany Beauchan was a double All-American performer in the breaststroke events (9th, 200/9th, 100), while Bianca Casciari (7th, 200 fly), Lauren Hall (13th, 400 IM) and Sam Vanden Berge (13th, 1650 free) also earned honors along with the 400 medley relay (16th) and 800 free relay (14th) teams . Multiple school records fell in the pool behind a talented group swimmers ranging from freshmen to juniors. The Bruins finished 19th at the NCAA Championships
2008-2009: The Bruins had a young team, but saw much success and improvement throughout the year. Several swimmers achieved marks on UCLA's all-time top-eight, while Madeleine Stanton (100/200 back) and Lauren Hall (400 IM) set new school records. Numerous NCAA qualifying marks were achieved, but another unbelievably fast swim season saw only Stanton and Hall advance to the NCAA Championships.
2007-2008: Gallagher had 11 athletes qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials, while four qualified for International Trials. She coached three Beijing Olympians - Kim Vandenberg, who earned bronze with the 800 freestyle relay; Nicolette Teo, who competed for Singapore in the breaststroke; and Amanda Beard, who competed for Team Bruin in the 200 breaststroke. Gallagher had three swimmers compete at NCAAs with Nicolette Teo earning All-American honors in the 100/200 breaststroke. Anna Poteete broke the 50 and 100 freestyle records during the year as a young team represented UCLA throughout the season.
2006-2007: Katie Nelson won back-to-back 1650 Freestyle Pac-10 titles and culminated her career with a fifth-place All-American finish in the mile race at the NCAA Championships. Katie Arnold also had a fine finish to her career with a sixth-place finish in the 100 Back at NCAAs. Nicolette Teo (100 Breast, 15th) and the 200 Medley Relay team of Arnold, Teo, Amy Thurman and Anna Poteete earned All-American honors with their 14th-place finish at NCAA's as the Bruins finished 15th overall.
2005-2006: Led by 16-time All-American Kim Vandenberg, the Bruins finished second at the Pac-10 Championships, their highest finish since the 2003-04 season. Vandenberg was the NCAA runner-up in the 200 Fly, and placed eighth in the 100 Fly at NCAAs. Katie Nelson, who finished eighth in the 1650 Free at the NCAA Championships, cruised to the Pac-10 title in that event by a margin of nearly eight seconds. During the dual meet season, UCLA posted a record of 7-3 (3-3 Pac-10), losing just one meet at home.
Vandenberg blossomed in the summer of 2006, winning the 200-meter Butterfly at the U.S. National Championships, and chopping nearly two seconds off her previous lifetime best with a brilliant 2:08.51. The performance, which ranked her first in the U.S. and sixth in the world for 2006, placed Vandenberg on the U.S. National A Team and earned her a spot on the USA's Pan Pacific team, as well as a berth on the U.S. roster for the 2007 FINA World Championships.
During the spring and summer, alumnae Kim Vandenberg earned a silver medal in the 200 Fly at the FINA World Championships in Sydney Australia. Her time of 2:06.87 ranked second in the world behind world record-holder Jessica Schipper of Australia. She will continue to train for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Gallagher.
2004-2005: The 2005 season produced another strong campaign for the Bruins, with six women garnering All-American honors: Katie Arnold, Katie Nelson, Eileen Seissen, Nicolette Teo, Amy Thurman and Kim Vandenberg. Vandenberg and Arnold both finished in the top-8 at NCAAs, with Vandenberg placing third in the 200-yard Butterfly (1:55.08) and Arnold finishing eighth in the 100 Backstroke (54.30).
Vandenberg also qualified for the World University Games, where Gallagher was chosen to serve as an Assistant Coach for Team USA. At the Games, held in Izmir, Turkey, Vandenberg gave Olympic champion and world record-holder Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland all she could handle in the 200 Fly. Vandenberg battled the Pole stroke-for-stroke through 200 meters, placing a very close second to the world champion in a lifetime-best 2:10.40.
2003-2004: Coach Gallagher's Bruins enjoyed another successful campaign in 2004 as six of the team's 10 seniors qualified for the NCAA Championships - Leslie Hovsepian, Kristen Lewis, Jackie Lobdell, Sara Platzer, Malin Svahnstrom, and Naoko Watanabe. In all, 10 athletes earned All-American honors, 13 qualified for the NCAAs and 10 qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials. UCLA finished second at the Pac-10s, just behind Stanford.
In the Olympic year of 2004, the NCAAs were swum in a 25-meter pool while most meets, including the Pac-10 Championships, utilized a 25-yard facility. With double the opportunity to set records and the added incentive of making the Olympic Trials cuts, the Bruins virtually rewrote the school record book: School records in 11 individual events and seven relays bit the dust. Ten of those marks were broken at the NCAA Championships, where the Bruins finished seventh overall.
During the summer of 2004, UCLA qualified 10 athletes for the U.S. Olympic Trials and sent Malin Svahnstrom to Athens representing her native Sweden. That summer also saw junior Kim Vandenberg become UCLA's first U.S. national champion since Annette Salmeen in 1996, when she won the 200-meter Butterfly, the same event Salmeen had won eight years earlier.
2002-2003: The next year produced an impressive, record-breaking season for the Bruins, as Coach Gallagher led UCLA to its second Pac-10 title in three years. It was only the third time that a school other than Stanford had captured the conference title. Arizona did it once, while Gallagher's Bruins have pulled off the feat twice. Coach Gallagher received Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors, while freshman Kim Vandenberg was named the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. At the NCAA Championships, the Bruins set new school records in the 400 and 800 Free Relays and had nine All-Americans for the second consecutive year en route to an 11th-place finish.
In international competition, Sara Platzer represented the United States at the World University Games in Daegu, South Korea. Competing in the second WUG of her career, Platzer placed fourth in the 50m Free in 25.97. At the FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, Malin Svahnstrom swam the 200m IM and anchored Sweden's sixth- place 800m Free Relay.
2001-2002: In 2002, the Bruins qualified 12 swimmers for the NCAA Championships, one of the largest squads at the meet. Nine of those women earned All-America honors as Sara Platzer, a five-event All-American that year, and Malin Svahnstrom, a four-event All-America, led the way.
2000-2001: In 2001, Coach Gallagher's fired-up Bruins notched their first-ever Pac-10 team title when they upset favored Stanford as well as perennial challengers Arizona, Cal and USC.
That summer Bruin swimmers were successful on the international level as well, as Bethany Goodwin and Sara Platzer represented the United States at the World University Games in Beijing. Goodwin struck gold in the 50m Butterfly, setting a new Games record, as well as winning a silver medal in the 400m Medley Relay. Platzer just missed a medal by .01 in the 50m Freestyle, placing fourth. Gallagher was chosen to be on the coaching staff for the Games, but had to decline due to family commitments.
Away From the Pool