Illinois State Director of Athletics Larry Lyons announced the hiring of Normal, Illinois, native and former Indiana assistant coach Caitlin Hamilton as the program’s new head swimming coach on Monday. Hamilton replaces Scott Cameron, who resigned the position in May to pursue other career opportunities.
Hamilton, a Normal Community High School graduate, comes to Illinois State after completing her second season on the Indiana coaching staff, serving as an assistant swimming coach for both the Indiana men’s and women’s teams. For the first time in school history, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams won the Big Ten team titles in 2018-19. The men’s squad won the championship for the third straight year, while the women’s team won its first Big Ten team crown since 2011. Both teams were dominant at the league championships, with the men’s team winning a total of 24 medals – 13 gold, six silver, and five bronze – and the women’s team winning a total of 14 medals – seven gold, one silver, and six bronze.
“We are very excited that Caitlin is joining the Redbird family and taking over our swimming program,” Lyons said. “She competed at a championship level locally and at Purdue, and has a broad base of coaching experience with success in regional, national and Olympic pools. We are excited for our student-athletes to start to work with Caitlin, as she brings a well-rounded perspective to the program as both a women’s and men’s coach. There are not many female head coaches at the Division 1 level, so Illinois State continues to be a leader in providing opportunities for women leaders. We are so fortunate that the timing was right to bring her back home and this is a really good fit.”
At the 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 Championships (Vini Lanza, 100 fly; Ian Finnerty, 100 breast; Andrew Capobianco, 3-meter; 400 medley relay) for the second-straight year. Over the course of the NCAA Championships, the Hoosiers had 13 individuals earn a total of 38 All-America honors.
Olympic gold medalist Lilly King 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 breaststrokes. As a team, Indiana placed ninth overall, earning the program’s fifth-straight top-10 finish and 10th top-10 performance in school history at the NCAA Championships.
“First, I would like to thank Director of Athletics Larry Lyons and Senior Associate Athletics Director Cindy Harris for this opportunity at Illinois State. I am grateful to be able to return home to Normal for this step forward in my career,” Hamilton stated. “This is an exciting move for me personally, and being able to bridge the history of ISU with the future of the sport is a unique opportunity. I have faith that with the resources and support in place, the Redbirds will show fight and might as we rise among the Missouri Valley and mid-major programs.
“I have great people in my corner, and I would not be here without them. While there are too many to thank, I have been fortunate to have many great mentors throughout my time as a student-athlete and a coach,” Hamilton continued. “However, I would like to personally thank Ray Looze and Mike Westphal for the last two years at Indiana. I am so grateful to have spent time learning from this amazing team and working alongside this elite staff. As I take this next step, I know I will have lasting relationships with all of the Hoosiers. Lastly, I would like to thank my family for their endless support. Both of my parents graduated from ISU, and my brothers and I grew up on campus while attending the University’s lab schools. The entire family is excited to continue to cheer on the Redbirds!”
Hamilton came to Indiana from IUPUI, where she served as an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s teams, as well as the recruiting coordinator for the women’s team. In 2017, Hamilton helped recruit the highest-ranked class in program history, with the men’s team ranked nationally. During her two years with the Jaguars, the team set 37 team records, posted six NCAA B time achievements and had two CSCAA Academic All-American teams.
Previous to IUPUI, Hamilton worked at Wyoming as an assistant coach of the combined program. While at Wyoming, she coached the mid-distance, distance, and individual medley swimmers. During her tenure, the Cowboys finished third at the Western Athletic Conference Championships (M) and fourth at the Mountain West Conference Championships (W). Overall finishing the year with one NCAA qualifier, four Conference Champions, and eight NCAA B Cuts.
In the previous season, she worked as an undergraduate assistant coach for Purdue. With the Boilers, Hamilton worked mainly with the mid-distance freestyle and individual medley swimmers. The swimmers ended the season with a 25th place finish at NCAAs from seven swimmers qualifying. The Boilermakers also had a seventh-place finish at the Big Ten Championships that year with two program and two freshman records broken. Hamilton also had roles in the Purdue athletic department as an intern for Purdue’s Athletic Development Department, the John Purdue Club.
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. She was a two-time Second-Team All-Big Ten and 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.
Hamilton graduated from Purdue in the spring of 2014 with degrees in Movement and Sport Science and Public Health. In the spring of 2017, she graduated with a Masters of Kinesiology from Indiana.