Olympic medalist Leah Smith will not follow her longtime coach Cory Chitwood to Bloomington, Indiana, where he was named an assistant coach at Indiana University last month, she told SwimSwam Tuesday.
Smith has worked with Chitwood since her NCAA days as an undergrad at the University of Virginia and followed him to the University of Arizona when former Virginia head coach Augie Busch took over there in 2017, bringing Chitwood along for his new staff.
“I will be staying in Tucson, Arizona to train for Tokyo 2020. Having trained under Augie and Clif [Robbins] the past 6 years, and Jesse [Stipek] the past two years, I know that I will be in great hands as I progress in my career,” Smith wrote in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my training with my awesome training group and team here, and I am excited to meet the new coaches that will be hired. I am grateful to Cory Chitwood for all he has done for me in my career and wish him the best at Indiana.”
Chitwood rose from assistant to associate head coach in his time with the Wildcats before he and the program parted ways in April.
Under Chitwood’s watch at Virginia, Smith became a four-time NCAA champion individually. She was a multi-time Pan Pacific Championships medalist and World University Games Champion before qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, where she took bronze in the 400 free and gold in the 4×200 free relay. She picked up a silver in the 400 free at the 2017 FINA World Championships, as well as gold in the 4×200 and bronze in the 800.
At the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships last summer, she again took bronze in the 800, as well as the 800, and followed that up with another bronze in the 800 at the 2018 FINA Short Course World Championships in December.
Just recently, in April, Smith hit a lifetime best in the 800 at the 2019 Pro Swim Series Richmond stop.