Two of the past three seasons, a Knoles-coached team has opened the year with votes in the Top 25 College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) dual-meet poll.
Committed to success and the total package his student-athletes receive at Pitt, Knoles values achievements both in and out of the pool. The level of excellence that his student-athletes have achieved in the classroom illustrates his philosophy that the Pitt experience is far more than just breaking pool records. It involves producing student-athletes that are the best they can be.
True to the student-athlete ideal, Knoles' swimmers have performed exceptionally well in the classroom. The CSCAA recognized Pitt as an All-American Academic team on both the women's and men's side. In addition, two student-athletes, Kristin Brown and Amy Miteff, earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors in the last five years. In 2008, Jeremy Stultz earned Big East/Aeropostale Scholar Athlete of the Year accolades, joining Brown and Carolyne Savini (1999-2003) as previous honorees. This past season, Jon Buchanan was named an institutional Big East Scholar Athlete.
In the pool, Pitt's men and women both claimed third-place league finishes at the 2009 Big East Championships. Pitt's men's team was led by MVP Rousseau Kluever, who set a rookie record in the 400 IM, when he placed sixth in that event at the conference meet. He also took eighth in the 200 fly and 14th in the 200 IM at the BEC. The 2008 MVP on the women's side, Laura Barnes was a recipient of a Big East Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week honor, and set school records in both the 100 and 200 breast at the Big East Championships. She was also a member of the record-setting 400 medley relay team.
Still recognized as the `Beast of the East' under Knoles,' Pitt has recruited the top student-athletes, both nationally and internationally to lead the Panthers back to
the top of the conference. Knoles opened the 2008-09 season with two notable freshman classes, as Collegeswimming.com ranked the men 25th and listed the women's incoming freshmen as a `team to watch.'
In 2006, Knoles became the all-time winningest coach in men's swimming and diving school history and currently boasts a 156-60 record, surpassing legendary coach Ben Grady (125-88-4) on the all-time coaches' list.
Under Knoles' direction, the men have finished in the top three at the conference championships in 18 of 19 years, including 11 championship titles. The women have steadily climbed back to the top of the league in the past five years, including a second-place finish in 2005.
After Knoles took over the reins of the women's team in 2002-03, the Panther women promptly broke 13 school records in his first season. The following season, more
records fell and the women's team received votes in the CSCAA national rankings for the first time in nearly a decade.
Most recently, Kristin Brown and Stacie Safritt each qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials. Brown would go on to finish among the top 35 U.S. swimmers in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyle events.
On the men's side, Jason Miller was the third Panther to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Dating back to the 2007 Big East Championships, Jeff Leath entered the Big East and Pitt record books with his third 200 back Big East crown in four years. Leath became the first swimmer in conference history to accomplish such a feat, in that event.
Likewise on the women's side, then-senior Andrea Shoust swept the backstroke events and became the first Panther to win conference crowns in the 100 and 200 back since 1987. Additionally, Brown garnered her second consecutive NCAA berth that year, which was the first back-to-back bid for a woman in nearly 20 years.
During the 2006-07 season, the women's team was led by a strong freestyle core and broke several school records, setting the Panthers up for postseason competition. The crowning moment was when Brown earned an outright bid to the NCAAs.
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 teams 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 a hunger to compete.
By following Knoles' formula for success and his goal for a national top-15 finish, the men have inched closer and closer to a ranking in the last three seasons. At the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, the men finished with votes in the top 25 dual-meet rankings.
Knoles has demonstrated his ability to win as a coach. In addition to the Panthers' 11 men's Big East Championships, his teams have also recorded three second-place finishes and two third-place finishes. His teams have a combined 203-79 dual meet record, while 19 of Knoles' Pittsburgh swimmers have been either Olympic Trial qualifiers or finalists. He has garnered six Big East Men's Swimming Coach of the Year awards (1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2002).
Knoles has had extensive experience and success coaching at the collegiate level, even prior to Pitt. 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, 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 won the American Swimming Coaches Association Award of Excellence four times from 1990-1994 and was awarded the CSCAA's Master Coach Award in 1996. He has served on the Executive Board of the CSCAA for the past five years.