Athlete profile: Swim alum Jamie Kennedy

Kyle Howe

Profile: James ‘Jamie’ Kennedy

Whitman Alum: Class of ’96

Current Position:  Assistant  Swimming Coach, Director of Planned Giving.

After returning from a lunch break at 1:30 p.m., Kennedy, dressed in a tie and a button-up shirt, sits in his office on the main floor of Memorial.

Credit: Charlie Li

What do you do on campus?
I am an assistant coach on the swim team, but that is my second job. My main job is what makes me wear this tie. I fundraise; I am in the development office and focus on planned giving, so I’m going out and visiting alumni, and basically talking to them about ways they can use financial planning to maximize their gift to Whitman.

Why did you stay at Whitman?
I didn’t stick around. When I graduated, at the time I was dating my wife [Becky Kennedy, Director of Advancement Services]. We left Walla Walla together and moved to Portland. We were there for about four years, and we absolutely loved Portland. But then I had a job offer down in California that was too good to turn down. So we packed up and moved to Sacramento, and we just didn’t like Sacramento that much. We were married at that point, and we were thinking that maybe we should start a family someday and that if we were going to do anything a little bit out there this is the time we should do it. So we visited Walla Walla a couple times and decided to come up and move. My wife got the job first, so we moved up, and I was able to get a job a few months later.

What is your favorite Whitman memory?

Probably one of my best memories from Whitman is going up the wheat fields. It makes me happy that students still do this. We drove up to the wheat fields: must have been at the end of May, so the weather was pretty nice. Just watching the sunset, and just relaxing out there; it is very relaxing and sort of surreal at the same time.

When you were on Whitman’s swim team, what was your fondest memory?

The traveling. It has been so long that it is hard to say one particular trip: just when you get together as a team and start traveling, you are all packed in a room, waking up early and going out and eating breakfast . . . I just love the team travels, it is just a blast.

What is your fondest memory of the swim team?

[Big grin] Recently my best, or fondest, memory is definitely when there was a particular race: and there is a photo that goes around on the swim team of this: where [then-senior] Chad Trexler was in the evening swim for finals two years ago and he just barely snuck in, so he was in the eighth slot, swimming on the outside lane, and he was just pumped up. The whole team got behind his block, so you have thirty plus people standing behind his block, and he just raced out of his mind. There is a picture of right when he finished and crushed almost everyone. He is turning around and there is a look of disbelief on his face when he saw his time. The whole team is just cheering, arms raised, the team was just so excited about the achievement of someone else on their team.

What is your favorite stroke?

It is still freestyle: I swam mostly freestyle in college. It is the easiest and the fastest.

How is the swim team this year?

I think the team is great! I am really excited, and we have got a pretty strong group of freshmen that came in. They should be really really strong contributors to the team. And we have a great core of returning swimmers, so we should have some really fast times this year. We have only had one week of practice this week so far, and the team vibe is really strong: they are happy. Maybe we are not working them hard enough [Laughs].