Nov. 26, 2009
By Larry Watts
The caller ID shows "Bobby Knight." The phone call is coming from Indiana University.
The response is nothing new to Titus Knight. "I know it's a little weird," the Hoosier junior says. "When I first came to Indiana, everybody was talking about Bobby Knight. So I said, 'You know he's my dad.'
"But when they asked me if I was the son of the former basketball coach, I had to tell them the truth. My dad didn't play basketball, but everyone on his job (as an independent insurance adjuster) calls him 'Coach."'
Ironically, like "The General," Knight also makes his home in Texas, Austin to be exact.
Like Nikki White, a sophomore on the Indiana women's swim team, Knight was also lured to Bloomington by assistant head coach for coordination of training and student-athletic development Donny Brush. Both Knight and White were coached by Brush when he was in charge of the Longhorn Aquatics Club in Austin.
"This was my first recruiting trip, my first time away from home, and it felt just like home," Knight says. "I also looked at Auburn and Southern Methodist in Dallas, but I just didn't have the same feeling I had while I was at Indiana.
"The team at Indiana was very laid back with me. They did a very good job of showing me what Indiana University life was like as a student-athlete.
"They took me to a an Indiana football game. Indiana was losing and it was raining, but I had a lot of fun. It was something I had never experienced before and really motivated me."
The second youngest of nine children, Knight has been a competitive swimmer ever since the age of 6. "One of my brothers suggested my mother put me in a club program because I was so much better than everyone else in my swim class," he says. "I just hopped in the water and was always the last out. They basically had to pull me out of the pool because I loved it so much."
The freestyle specialist readily admits he did not meet in his expectations during his freshman season with the Hoosiers.
"I was struggling with the climate change, a new place and making adjustments to having practice in the morning, going to class and then lifting weights," the history major says. "It wasn't until my sophomore year when I finally started to get my feet under me."
However, by the time Knight was hoping to make an impression at the Big Ten Championships, he came down with the flu. He was 11th in the 500 freestyle, 13th in the 200 free, 25th in the 100 free and part of the ninth-place 400 relay squad.
"I was convinced I could have done better, but the flu kind of dampened my meet," he says.
But Knight rebounded in a big way during this past summer, when he remained in Bloomington to take more classes and compete with the Hoosiers' club team.
He competed in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyles during the World Championship Trials in Indianapolis and then headed out to Seattle to participate in the U.S. Open.
"The World Championship Trials was a tough meet because we were right in the heat of training. We were doing peak yardage and peak weight training right before the meet," he says. "I was pretty tired, but the U.S. Open was my primary focus and that turned out to be a real stepping stone for me."
Hitting the U.S. Open in a full taper, he finished sixth in the 200, sixth in the 400 and 16th in the 100. He also helped the 800 relay squad take third and the 400 relay place sixth.
"I was ready to rock," Knight says. "I was ecstatic over my times. I was the third person in Indiana history to break the 1:50 barrier in the 200 (1:49.99 in prelims) and I cracked Indiana's top 10 list in the 400 (3:53.84 in prelims). I know I still have a lot of work to do, but it really gives me a good feeling heading into my junior year.
"I have proved to myself I can swim at a high level and still have fun. I had been putting too much pressure on myself as a freshman and sophomore, and in the end it wasn't doing me any good. I just needed to relax and do what comes naturally. I'm going to take that same approach the rest of the way."
If he follows his own advice, Knight strongly believes he can take his season beyond the Big Ten Championships to the NCAA Championships this season. And his vision for the future is a berth on the 2012 Olympic team.
"My mind tells me I'm right where I need to be," he says. "In the past, it wasn't really clear because I was having such a tough time adjusting to the training at Indiana. But I'm pretty content now and I'm just going to keep plugging along."