Kaitlin Sandeno Embracing Historic Role as International Swimming League GM


When Kaitlin Sandeno was announced as general manager of the DC Trident in the upstart International Swimming League (ISL), it was groundbreaking.

Not just because there is a new professional swimming league in the United States, but because Sandeno is one of the first American female general managers in the history of professional sports.

“I am extremely honored and humbled by this incredible opportunity,” Sandeno told Swimming World. “I am very proud of that. It also speaks very loudly to our league. We are very gender equal, and the first league like that. It is exciting for the league and women in sports.”

Sandeno is one of the first American female GM in professional team sports.

Susan Spencer was the general manager for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1982-85 when her father owned the team. At that time, the role didn’t include choosing players, but she was in control of the team’s spending. That has changed with three female GMs in the WNBA. Penny Toler is the current GM for the L.A. Sparks, while Cheryl Reeve is the GM and coach for the Minnesota Lynx and Alisha Valvanis is GM of the Seattle Storm.

Tina Andrew, born in South Africa and the mother of U.S. swimmer Michael Andrew, also is one of the four general managers, along with Jason Lezak and Lenny Krayzelburg.

The ISL will provide a way for more swimmers to become professional and make some money while training for the national team or for the Olympic trials.

“That is why I want to do this,” Sandeno said. “We are providing an opportunity for athletes and that is so progressive. I also think it is long overdue. That is something that has been lacking in our sport. I believe we are furthering the sport for our athletes and the sport in general. The swimming interest will always be the biggest. We have this amazing opportunity that financially allows them to go after these goals. They don’t have to worry about income as they go after their dreams.”

Several women have owned major sports franchises throughout the years, including Effa Manley, who co-owned the Newark Eagles Negro League baseball team with her husband Abe in the late 1930s and 1940s, prior to Jackie Robinson integrating baseball. Manley ran the team and is the only woman ever elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jeannie Buss, Marge Schott and others have owned teams, including Sheila Johnson, who is a co-owner of the Washington Mystics, Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals.

Other women have played huger roles in sports leagues like Katrina Adams, the CEO, Chairman and President of the United States Tennis Association and Lisa Borders, president of the WNBA.

There have been at least three female assistant general managers in Major League Baseball, including Kim Ng and Jean Afterman.

Kelly Krauskopf was the first woman to be an assistant general manager for an NBA team, when she joined the Indiana Pacers in December.

But Sandeno and Andrew are two of the first female GMs in professional sports.

This league brings more gender equity, which is a huge draw for the swimmers.

“It is one of the first leagues to emphasize gender equality,” said ISL ambassador Katie Ledecky. “It represents a new era for professional swimming, especially for competitive women like me. Jumping into the pool with the ISL is really a new era for women. It is one of the first leagues to emphasize gender equality as one of its values. That is why I am so thrilled to see Tina Andrew and Kaitlin Sandeno as GMs. I am really looking forward to what this league is going to do for our sport.”


  1. avatar
    Xonzy Gaddis

    She is absolutely legendary!!

  2. avatar
    Xonzy Gaddis

    She is absolutely legendary!!

  3. avatar
    Olivia Wile

    As if competitive swimming wasn’t awesome enough, this is great! Proud to be in a sport that values equality

    • Laura Riddell

      Amazing woman! Can’t wait to see what this organization can do for the sport!

  4. avatar

    She is so great!!!