Sippy Woodhead

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameCynthia Lee "Sippy"•Woodhead (-Kantzer, -Brennan)
Used nameSippy•Woodhead
Born7 February 1964 in Riverside, California (USA)
Measurements165 cm / 54 kg
AffiliationsMission Viejo Nadadores, Mission Viejo (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1


Sippy Woodhead earned her nickname because her little sister could not pronounce Cynthia. Sippy began swimming at age four and when she was only 14, she starred at the 1978 World Aquatic Championships, winning five medals and three gold medals. The next year, at the Pan-American Games, Sippy Woodhead won five gold medals – in the 100 free, 200 free, 400 free, and the freestyle and medley relays. She added three world records in the 200 freestyle in 1978-79 and for her efforts, in 1979 she was named World Swimmer of the Year. She seemed set to dominate at the 1980 Olympics, and qualified for six events, but the US boycott prevented that possibly becoming her showcase.

After 1980, several health problems curtailed her career, including mononucleosis, pneumonia, and a broken leg. But she recovered to win a gold medal at the 1983 Pan-American Games in the 200 free and a silver in the 400 free. She qualified for the 1984 Olympic team, winning a silver medal in the 200 freestyle. During her career she set 18 US records and won 18 national championships. In her honor, the pool in Riverside, California, where she first started swimming is now called the Sippy Woodhead Pool.

Woodhead earned a degree from Southern Cal in journalism and later earned a masters’ degree in marriage, family, and child counseling. From 1989-97 she served as an assistant swim coach at her alma mater. She suffered a tragedy in her life when in 1995 her first husband, Michael Kanzer, died in a motor vehicle accident after falling asleep at the wheel.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1984 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Sippy Woodhead
200 metres Freestyle, Women (Olympic) 2 Silver

Special Notes