Caitlin Hamilton, Director
Caitlin Hamilton is the current Head Coach of the Illinois State Swimming & Diving program. A native of Normal, Illinois, Hamilton was officially hired as the Redbirds’ head coach in May, 2019. During the 2021-2022 season, Hamilton led Illinois State to a runner up team finish at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. Their highest finish since 2014.
Under Hamilton's leadership, the Redbirds have seen eight individual Missouri Valley Conference champions. In 2020 and 2021, Illinois State had a MVC Swimmer of the Year and MVC Diver of the Year respectively. In 2022, the Redbirds had athletes named MVC Scholar Athlete of the Year and MVC Freshmen Diver of the Year. The program moved up from a fourth-place finish to a runner up finish in 2022. The team also saw incredible success in the classroom. In 2019 and 2020, the program averaged among the top 15 team GPAs for Division 1 women’s programs. Then, earned a top 5 Team GPA for the Fall 2021 semester.
Hamilton has nine years of coaching experience at various Division 1 programs. She is currently the Head Coach of the Illinois State Swimming & Diving program. When Hamilton was hired in 2019, she was the youngest Division 1 Head Coach in the country. While female head coaches in Division 1 swimming are rare, Hamilton has seen success at every level.
During her time with the Redbirds, Hamilton led the team from back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2020 and 2021 to a Missouri Valley Conference Runner-Up finish in 2022. With Hamilton at the helm, the Redbirds have seen eight individual MVC Champions. At the 2020 Championships, the Redbirds had a MVC Swimmer of the Year named. In 2021, the team had a Diver of the Year named as well. During 2022, the Redbirds saw a MVC Scholar Athlete of the Year, Freshmen Diver of the Year named following the meet.
Hamilton went to Illinois State after completing two seasons on the Indiana coaching staff, serving as an Assistant Coach for the combined program. During the 2018-2019 season both programs won Big Ten team titles for the first time in school history. The Men's team won the championship for the third-straight year, while the women won their first Big Ten team crown since 2011.
At the 2019 NCAA Championships, Hamilton helped guide the Men's team to back-to-back top-3 finishes for the first time in 44 years. The Hoosier men finished in third place, winning four NCAA titles (100 fly, 100 breast, 3-meter diving, 400 medley relay) for the second-straight year.
An Olympic gold medalist highlighted the women's team's accomplishments at the 2019 NCAA Championships, becoming the first woman in NCAA history to win eight breaststroke titles. Completing her four-year sweep of the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. As a team, Indiana placed ninth overall, earning the program's fifth-straight top-10 finish at NCAAs.
Previous to Indiana University, Hamilton was on IUPUI and Wyoming's coaching staffs as an Assistant Coach. She began her coaching career as an Undergraduate Assistant Coach during her fifth year at Purdue University.
As a student-athlete at Purdue, Hamilton earned All-America honors in the 1,650 freestyle during the 2009-10 season. She also earned Honorable Mention All-America honors the following season in the same event. She was a two-time Second-Team All-Big Ten, earning two silver medals during the Big Ten Championships. Hamilton was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. On the national scene, Hamilton was a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier in the 400 and 800-meter freestyle events in 2008 and 2012.
FEATURED INSTRUCTOR - MESA, ARIZONA
JoPro Olympian Olivia Smoliga
Specialties: Backstroke & Freestyle
2X Olympic Gold & Bronze Medalist Olivia Smoliga grew up in Chicago, IL. with her younger brother Matt. Only 4 years apart, their relationship boded an active lifestyle as kids - biking to 7-Eleven down the block for slushees, running laps around the park to see who could be faster, or who could run the most hills. Early on, Olivia was invested sports. Firstly, with dance - Irish, of all choices - even though her parents are Polish immigrants. She tried diving, gymnastics, volleyball ... all until she started to swim. When Olivia was 10 years old, she joined her first swim club, where she only really remembers getting water up her nose and in her ears. It wasn’t until she watched the 2004 Olympics on TV that the sport caught her eye as something magical. In 2012, at just 17, she competed in her first Olympic Trials where she placed 4th in the 100m backstroke, in the top 10 in the world in that event. Butmissing the team by 2 spots at the time, was heart breaking. It was her dream to become an Olympian, and she fell short. Staying the course, five months later, she was selected to be on the shortcourse world championship team. There, she won her first individual title in the 100m backstroke and broke the American record in the 50m backstroke, getting silver.
Olivia then committed to the University of Georgia, where she helped the women’s team win 2 team NCAA titles with 3 titles of her own. The summer of her junior year, she went on to compete at Olympic Trials again.Her dream of becoming an Olympian for the first time was fueled by her parents. As Polish immigrants, they traveled to the states in the 90s, where they started their own wood flooring business. They helped Olivia and her brother believe that they could achieve anything they wanted with hard, determined work. They were granted their American citizenship, won awards and recognition for their work, and proved that even if you start from nothing, your dreams can become a reality. Olivia qualified for the 2016 Olympics in the 100m backstroke and the 4x100 medley relay. In Rio, she finally won gold in the 4x100 medley relay preliminary heat. Since 2016, Olivia has qualified for 3 World Championship teams and a Pan Pacific team. She is the current LCM 50m backstroke World champion and American record holder. With the support of her suit sponsor, FINIS Inc., Olivia trained and qualified for her second Olympic team in June 2021. In July she headed to Bejing for the 2021 Summer Olympics, where she competed on the 4 X 100 Free Relay and won a Bronze Medal. Olivia hopes to be an inspiration for the next wave of athletes, and non athletes - urging them them to never give up on whatever their dreams may be with positivity, dedication and hard work.