Pitt is Prepared to Take Training to Next Level With New Head Coach Chase Kreitler


Pitt is Prepared to Take Training to Next Level With New Head Coach Chase Kreitler

In college swimming, making a team better means working hard in the water and the weight room. There are other aspects that create a positive environment for athletes to thrive and perform well. In this interview with new University of Pittsburgh head coach Chase Kreitler, he talks about being open with his athletes about the mental side of swimming and being a student-athlete, and how he plans to build a positive atmosphere with parents and staff.

Swimming World: In previous interviews, you’ve spoken a lot about how you’ll be taking Pitt’s swim team to the next level. Much of the focus was on the physical training in the pool and weight room. What are your thoughts on improving the program from a mental health aspect?

Chase Kreitler: “There are two distinct aspects. One: Athlete’s mental health and well-being. And two: Sports psychology and performance. In general, recognition of mental health is something good that has emerged in sports and society. And particularly in college sports. The pandemic and people not being connected in-person brought mental health to the forefront. For the first time, people are more comfortable going to counseling and believing it is okay to not be okay. We have seen multiple undergraduate student-athletes commit suicide, which is tragic. And we often see that their friends and family did not see the signs on social media or in-person before it happened. Now more than ever, it is important to have conversations whether you think they’re okay or not. People can be guarded. Sometimes, it will look like everything is fine, but it might not be. For me, it is essential that my athletes holistically are very healthy and in a good spot with their friends, family, and relationships. There is so much value in asking for help. We do this all the time. I think it’s imperative to teach student athletes and the staff that it is okay to ask for help. There will be normal ups and downs that all college students go through, and I think there will be higher highs and lower lows for student athletes particularly. It is hard to go to school and be a college student and push your body daily in the pool or on the field, making everyday life harder. Whether you’re a student-athlete or a normal student, it is important to get to a point where we have open and honest conversations about seeking help and knowing when things aren’t right. At Pitt, we will discuss it a lot and encourage the use of resources and counselors the school offers.”

Swimming World: I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “it takes a village.” I know you’ve added some spectacular coaching staff to the program, and Pitt has great strength coaches and academic resources. What are your thoughts on parents’ involvement with the team and its culture? Pitt’s parents have a Facebook group where they can stay up to date with events. Would you consider reaching out to the parents through that?

Chase Kreitler: “Absolutely. It is definitely at the top of my list. Multiple parents have reached out to me, and one of the things that I want to do is hopefully get our parent group the strongest that it has ever been. We will set up a zoom call, and I will introduce myself and inspire them to take our cheering section to a new level. But we also have to give them something to cheer about. The hope is we have more swims in the ACC finals and more NCAA qualifiers. I hope our parent group, the staff and the swimmers can come together and be on one mission and get excited.”

Swimming World: What are your thoughts on incorporating mental training into Pitt’s swim and dive schedule?

Chase Kreitler: “Absolutely. There is no doubt that confidence is tied with performance. Everybody has a little bit of a heightened level of anxiety when they step up to the blocks. How you manage your feelings at a meet feels different than how you manage your feelings at practice. At Pitt, we will discuss how to prepare for different scenarios individually and as a team and try to stay cool, calm and collected. A lot of that will be establishing a routine and using the coaching staff as that last bit of race prep. Yes, we are going to be doing mental training. We cannot underestimate how important and powerful the mind is.”

Swimming World: In a year from now, if someone were asked to explain Pitt Swimming and Diving in one word or phrase, what word or phrase do you hope they would use?

Chase Kreitler: “Electric. I believe we can take this program to the next level very quickly. We have a great culture and program, and we will recruit and build it up even more. Since I have been here, it has been super fun. We have a disciplined group, and everyone trusts me and the program. They’re excited and want to swim fast.”

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Swim mom
Swim mom
1 year ago

Chase will do great things for Pitt Swimming in & out of the pool!

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