Women in Coaching: Cindy Griffin
By Lauren Hardy//Correspondent
Performance statistics are good indicators of an outstanding club team, but perhaps what makes a team more compelling is the rich history and coaching dedication that lies behind those statistics.
Around 45 years ago, the Enze family helped build the foundation of the Lodi Swim Club, located less than an hour south of Sacramento, Calif., in San Joaquin County.
Today, the Enze’s daughter, now Cindy Griffin, carries on the swimming tradition as coach of the club’s Gold Group (ages 9-12) – a position she has worked for the past 35 years, in addition to being a third grade teacher at Mokelumne River School.
In the last 4-5 years, Lodi swimmers have achieved Olympic Trial cuts, and in the last year alone, the Club grew from 120 to 250 swimmers. A challenging training regimen is a key part of Griffin’s coaching style, but she also emphasizes positive thinking and making the sport fun.
Griffin’s coaching has positively touched the lives of hundreds of swimmers – too many to count. Because of her impact, she and every coach in the U.S. may receive a national day of honor, thanks to the advocacy of one of Griffin’s swimmers, Madeline Woznick, who is speaking with government officials to create a national coaches day.
USA Swimming spoke with Cindy Griffin to learn more about her coaching experiences and advice:
What’s your coaching motto?
I always say, “Garbage in, garbage out!” This means if you say you can’t do it, you won’t be able to do it.
What do you believe is a characteristic all coaches should have?
Every child who comes through the gate and onto the deck knows that I am glad they are there, and that I know their name and am willing to listen. It’s important that your swimmers know you care not just about their swimming, but also about their family and life.
What are you five keys to success?
1) My mentors and coaches (Gordon Collet, my father, Mel Enze, John Croslin, and my husband, John Griffin)
2) I’ve been involved with the sport since 1961 and have had many great experiences as a swimmer myself.
3) I have a passion for working with children.
4) I think it is important to be a positive optimistic person.
5) I just enjoy everything about coaching – even the ups and the downs; every down is followed by an up.
How has swimming changed throughout your career over the last 35 years?
Today, we know how important it is to teach stroke technique and skills, rather than just distance. We spend more time on starts, streamlines, body position, turns and race pace.
What’s that hardest part about being of coach?
As a coach, you feel the excitement of great efforts. The hard part is seeing disappointment when swimmers don’t reach their personal goals.
What makes swimming a great sport to be involved in?
It is both an individual and a team sport. You also make life long friends, learn how to be humble from your achievements, but also, when you don't achieve a goal, you learn how to handle it.
What's your advice to women who are thinking about or want to be a swim coach?
Just Do it! It is one of the most rewarding professions there is.
What are your future plans for coaching?
I will continue to coach with Lodi Swim Club for as long as God allows me to coach.