The Panthers will be back in action next weekend at conference rival Virginia
Chuck Knoles, head coach of the Pittsburgh men's swimming and diving team since 1990, has reached many milestones over the last decade. During the 1999-2000 season alone, Knoles became Pittsburgh's all-time winningest coach, claiming his 77th career win in a tri-meet with Villanova and Maryland on Jan. 22, 2000. But he didn't stop there.
Knoles also led the Panthers to their 15th Big East Conference championship, his seventh as head coach, and was honored as the conference's Men's Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career. In addition, he produced his first NCAA scorer at Pittsburgh in former breaststroke specialist Michael Pron.
Now beginning his 11th season at the helm of an already successful program, Knoles has his sites set on even higher goals.
"We want to qualify as many guys to the NCAA championships as possible," said Knoles. "We want to break into the Top 20. It's a lofty goal, but we're not backing down from it."
During his tenure, Knoles has consistently maintained the Panthers' reputation as one of the top collegiate programs in the East and continues to lead his team to success year after year.
But it hasn't been easy. Knoles is aware of how competitive collegiate swimming has become, and demands that his student-athletes strive to maintain the right edge to compete.
"You must go into every competition as tough as nails," Knoles said. "You learn from winning, just as you learn from losing. Hard work is part of the formula for success, and we keep on our kids to stay in shape and to train hard. There is no real 'off' period. You must do it year-round to compete and to win at the big-time NCAA Division I level."
Knoles has demonstrated his ability to win as a coach. In addition to the Panthers' seven Big East championships, they have also recorded two second-place finishes and one third-place finish. His teams have a combined 78-30 dual meet record, while 13 of Knoles's Pittsburgh swimmers have been either Olympic Trial qualifiers or finalists.
True to the student-athlete ideal, Knoles's swimmers have also performed exceptionally well in the classroom. The 1999-00 Panther men's swimming and diving team ranked 30th in the nation for grade-point averages of Division I men's teams, and produced eight Big East Academic All-Stars.
Knoles has had extensive experience and success coaching at the collegiate level, even prior to Pittsburgh. 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 also head coach at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona, from 1977-1988, where he coached both the men's and women's teams, and was named High School Skyline Coach of the Year seven times while leading his teams to an amazing 132-23 combined record.
In 1989, Knoles was the recipient of the College Swim Coaches Association Outstanding Achievement Award. He also won the American Swimming Coaches Association Award of Excellence four times from 1990-1994 and was awarded the CSAA's Master Coach Award in 1996.
Knoles, a native of Flagstaff, Ariz., was also the president and founder of the Desert Swim League while in North Phoenix.