Leah Smith Moving to Tucson to Train at University of Arizona

Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Leah Smith, a two-time Olympic medalist in 2016 and a three-time medalist at this summer’s World Championships, has decided to move to Tucson, Ariz., to train at the University of Arizona, following her longtime coach Cory Chitwood.

Chitwood was an assistant coach under Augie Busch at Virginia from 2013 to 2017, and he was the primary distance coach. When Busch took the head coaching job at Arizona in July, Chitwood also made the move west.

Smith explained her decision in a statement to Swimming World:

“I would like to thank the University of Virginia, UVA Swimming and Diving, and all of Charlottesville for an incredible four years. I am extremely excited for the future of UVA Swimming, and I know the team and the new staff will light it up this year!

“While Charlottesville will always have a piece of my heart, I can’t wait to begin a new chapter in my life in Tucson, Arizona as I continue to train with my long-time coach, Cory Chitwood. I would like to thank the team and staff at the University of Arizona for being so kind and welcoming to me. Bear down and Wahoowa!”

One year after winning bronze in the 400 free and gold in the 800 free relay at the Rio Olympics, Smith took on a big schedule of events at the World Championships. She improved to silver in the 400 free (behind Katie Ledecky), again won 800 free relay gold and added a bronze in the 800 free. She also made the final in both the 200 free and 400 IM.

During her college career at Virginia, Smith won NCAA titles in both the 500 and 1650 free in 2015 and 2016 before finishing second in both events as a senior behind Ledecky. The 22-year-old Smith is a native of Pittsburgh.

Chitwood himself swam at Arizona, where he was a three-time NCAA champion in the 200 back. His role as Smith’s primary coach vaulted him onto the U.S. women’s coaching staff at this summer’s World Championships for the first time.



  1. Jodi Marston Mueller

    Jessica Jones Koupal we were just talking about this!

  2. Paula Lee

    Sharon Clark