Cyndi Gallagher, one of the top college coaches in America, enters her 26th season as head coach of the UCLA Bruins in 2013-2014, having compiled an impressive won-loss record of 157-83-1. 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
Gallagher is one of the few coaches in the nation who coaches at her alma mater. A highly successful student-athlete for UCLA, she garnered All-American honors, set several school records and earned recognition as the university's "Most Valuable Athlete." As a coach, she has attained an even higher level, coaching Olympians, Olympic medalists, NCAA and USA national champions and national team members.
Over the years, Gallagher has compiled an enviable record of success. In nine of her 25 years at the helm of UCLA women's swimming, her Bruins have finished among the nation's Top 10 teams. They've been among the Top 15 teams in 15 of her years.
Gallagher and her first-rate coaching staff have high expectations of their athletes, both in and out of the pool. These expectations, in turn, attract elite, intelligent, dedicated, goal-oriented and well-rounded student-athletes.
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...
Producing Olympians is always among Gallagher's highest priorities. In 1996, she became one of the first female coaches to place an athlete on the U.S. Olympic team when Annette Salmeen qualified for the Atlanta Games in two events - the 200 Butterfly, which she won at the Olympic Trials, and the 800 Freestyle Relay. Salmeen, who had already become Gallagher's first national collegiate champion when she won the 200 Fly at the NCAA's, went on to win Olympic gold as a member of the triumphant USA 800 Free Relay.
Four years later, Gallagher placed another Bruin in the Olympics when Marilyn Chua, representing Malaysia, swam the 50 Free at the Sydney Games. In 2000 and 2004, the Bruins' Malin Svahnstrom represented her native Sweden at the Games, swimming in the 800 Free 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 Free 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 81 All-Americans who have earned a total of 176 All-American awards in her 25 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 21 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 NCAA's, 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
Gallagher's commitment to excellence in the classroom is shown in her student-athletes' many academic achievements. Exhibit A, of course, is NCAA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Salmeen, who was named a Rhodes Scholar - UCLA's eighth-ever and first since 1973 - and also earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Even while she was working on advanced graduate work at Oxford, Salmeen stayed involved in swimming as an elected Athlete Representative for USA Swimming.
During her magical senior year in 1996, Salmeen won two Pac-10 titles (100 and 200 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 an 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 the 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 and Lewis, Keiko Price, Brighed Dwyer and Katie Younglove were also honored with coveted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. 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...
2012-2013: Nine Bruins were named to the CSCAA All-America Teams, as UCLA posted its best NCAA finish (17th) since 2007. The 11 dual meet wins, including victories over Arizona and Arizona State, were the most in program history for a single season. UCLA had a pair of First Team All-Americans, as Ting Quah finished seventh in the 100 Fly at the NCAA Championships and Emma Ivory-Ganja placed seventh in the Platform diving event. The Bruins broke seven school records (100, 200, 1000 and 1650 Free, 100 Fly and 200 and 400 Free Relays). UCLA was fifth at the Pac-12 Championships.
2011-2012: Gallagher had 13 current UCLA swimmers who were 2012 Olympic Trials participants. During the season, the Bruin swimmers broke six school records (50 and 100 Free, 100 Fly, 200 Medley Relay and 200 and 400 Free Relays), two freshmen records (100 Breast and 400 IM) and two facility records (50 Free and 200 Free Relay). Yasi Jahanshahi was the top Bruin at the NCAA Championships, finishing 12th in the 200 Fly and 15th in the 100 Fly. The Bruins tied for 37th at the NCAA's and were fifth at the Pac-12 Championships.
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 Sam 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), Vanden Berge (500, 1650 Free), 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, Beauchan was a double All-American performer in the Breaststroke events (ninth in both), while Bianca Casciari (7th, 200 Fly), Hall (13th, 400 IM) and Vanden Berge (13th, 1650 Free) also earned honors along with the 400 Medley (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 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 - Vandenberg, who earned bronze with the 800 Freestyle Relay; Teo, who competed for Singapore in the Breaststroke; and Beard, who competed for Team Bruin in the 200 Breaststroke. Gallagher had three swimmers compete at NCAA's with 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 NCAA's. Teo (100 Breast, 15th) and the 200 Medley Relay team of Arnold, Teo, Amy Thurman and 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 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 NCAA's. 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, 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.
2004-2005: The 2005 season produced another strong campaign for the Bruins, with six women garnering All-American honors: Arnold, Nelson, Teo, Thurman, Vandenberg and Eileen Seissen. 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 - Lewis, Svahnstrom, Leslie Hovsepian, Jackie Lobdell, Sara Platzer and Naoko Watanabe. In all, 10 athletes earned All-American honors, 13 qualified for the NCAA's and 10 qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials. UCLA finished second at the Pac-10's, just behind Stanford.
In the Olympic year of 2004, the NCAA's 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 Svahnstrom to Athens representing her native Sweden. That summer also saw Vandenberg become UCLA's first U.S. national champion since Salmeen in 1996, when she won the 200-meter Butterfly, the same event Salmeen had won eight years earlier.
Away From the Pool
Coach Gallagher's life away from the pool revolves around her family and friends. She has a daughter, Tori, a 2008 graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder. Gallagher resides on the beautiful beach of Marina del Rey.