Six Pitt swimmers trek across the country to compete in Nationals over the next five days
Chuck Knoles is in his 25th year at Pitt and his 13th season at the helm of both the men's and women's swimming and diving teams.
Knoles has led the Panthers to 11 Big East Championships on the men's side and 21 finishes among the league's top three. Additionally, the women have won at least nine dual meets five times during Knoles' tenure and recorded a second-place finish at the conference championship in 2003.
In addition to the Panthers' 11 Big East Men's Championships, he boasts a .703 win percentage (175-74 dual-meet record) in his 22 years leading the Pitt's men's squad. Knoles is listed as the all-time winningest coach in men's swimming and diving school history after surpassing legendary coach Ben Grady (125-88-4) in 2006.
Knoles has guided seven swimmers to All-America honorable mention status, including Randy Gertenbach, Michael Grube, Miah Heath, Kenneth Shelhorse, Max Von Bodungen, Michael Pron and Carolyne Savini. Notably, 24 of Knoles' Pitt swimmers have been either Olympic Trial qualifiers or finalists.
Additionally, numerous Panthers have been named All-Big East selections under Knoles' watch, including 35 who boast individual conference titles. Knoles himself has garnered six Big East Men's Swimming Coach of the Year awards (1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2002).
He has also trained and developed several other high-profile athletes. One of the most recent decorated alumni from the men's swimming team is Warren Barnes. This past October, Barnes placed fourth in the 200M breast at the Pan American Games. Earlier that month, Barnes was named the recipient of the Bob Pirie Trophy (an award given to the top male performer from Ontario, Canada.) Barnes is also a Canadian National Champion and a member of the FINA World Champion Canadian Team. Pitt's Most Valuable Swimmer in 2008, Barnes earned All-Big East honors in both the 100 and 200 breast stroke events.
On the women's side, Knoles led Kristen McMullan to the fastest 50 free time of the 2011 Big East Championships. McMullan recorded a NCAA provisional finish of 22.86, which eclipsed the 2009 school record of 23.02. She also advanced to the finals as the No. 3 seed in the 100 free.
McMullan holds a school record as a member of the 400 medley relay team and set the freshmen record in the 100 fly. The 2011 team MVP, McMullan was an ECAC Champion in the 50 and 100 free as a junior. She was also a Big East Academic All-Star and was honored as the team's Academic Award recipient after achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA. In April of 2011, McMullan was named the female Blue-Gold honoree at the University of Pittsburgh Senior Awards Banquet.
Pitt's swimming and diving team has also earned the University's Blue and Gold and Panther Awards 15 times in the last two decades.
Other notable recent graduates from Knoles program include Kristin Brown, Stacie Safritt and Jason Miller who qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials. Brown finished among the top 35 U.S. swimmers in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle events.
In 2007, Jeff Leath entered the Big East and Pitt records with his third Big East crown in the 200 back. Leath became the first swimmer in conference history to accomplish such a feat in that event.
Similarly, Andrea Shoust swept the backstroke events and became the first Panther to win conference crowns in the 100 and 200 back since 1987. That same year, Brown garnered her second consecutive NCAA berth, which was the first back-to-back bid for a woman in nearly 20 years.
In addition to all of the athletic success, Knoles is committed to the total package his student-athletes receive at Pitt. He values achievements both in and out of the pool. The level of excellence that his student-athletes have accomplished in the classroom illustrates his philosophy that the Pitt experience is far more than just breaking pool records. It involves producing student-athletes that become the best they can be.
True to the student-athlete ideal, Knoles' swimmers have performed exceptionally well in the classroom. The CSCAA has recognized Pitt as an All-American Academic team on both the women's and men's side countless times. In addition, Brown and Amy Miteff, earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors. In 2008, Jeremy Stultz earned Big East/Aeropostale Scholar Athlete of the Year accolades, joining Brown and Savini as previous honorees. Stultz was also a NCAA Post-Graduate Scholar.
Knoles has recruited student-athletes both nationally and on foreign soil. Pitt is currently represented by 18 international student-athletes, roughly 32 percent of the team. The distance travelled to recruit has proved beneficial, as the Panthers have received votes in the Top 25 College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) and Collegeswimming.com dual-meet polls in recent years.
Knoles successfully oversaw both programs as they transitioned from the Big East to their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference during the 2013-14 school year, guiding the women to an eighth place finish and the men to ninth.
In the 2011-12 season, Pitt was rated No. 25 by Collegeswimming.com with the addition of newcomers Luke Nosbisch, Jonathan Lierley, Kourosh Ahani, Austin Caldwell, Joseph Notarianni and John Pidgeon. This was an improvement upon the men's 2010 class, which was ranked as a group that `caught the eye,' of Collegeswimming.com.
After Knoles took over the women's team reins in 2002-03, the Panther women broke 13 school records in his first season. The following year, more records fell and the women's team received votes in the CSCAA national rankings for the first time in nearly a decade.
During the 2006-07 season, the women's team was led by a strong freestyle core that broke several school records. The crowning moment was when Brown earned an outright bid to the NCAA Championship, where she posted a top-30 performance in the 200 and 500 free events.
Knoles has had extensive experience and success coaching at the collegiate level. As the interim head coach at the University of Arizona in 1988-89, he led both the men's and women's squads to a 15th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, and coached 13 All-Americans, including the school's first NCAA champion in any sport.
Knoles was head coach at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Ariz. from 1977-88, where he coached both the men's and women's teams. He was named High School Skyline Conference Coach of the Year seven times while leading his squads to an amazing 132-23 combined record.
In 1989, Knoles was the recipient of the College Swim Coaches Association Outstanding Achievement Award. He won the American Swimming Coaches Association Award of Excellence four times from 1990-94 and was awarded the CSCAA's Master Coach Award in 1996. He has served on the Executive Board of the CSCAA since 2005.
On campus, Knoles is not only recognized as a coach but as a teacher as well. He has been invited to give several lectures, reflecting his view on the importance of education.