The golden girl of Australian swimming thinks she has the best coach in the sport.
In fact, Ariarne Titmus thinks Dean Boxall is the best coach in any sport.
You may remember that Boxall completely blew his stack at the Tokyo Olympics when Titmus edged out the legendary Katie Ledecky to win gold in the 400m freestyle.
As well as being excellent meme food, Boxall is something of a swimming swami.
Just ask Titmus.
“I really can’t speak for anyone else, but I think my relationship with Dean is probably the best athlete-coach bond you can have,” Titmus told ABC.
“I feel like we’re best friends plus he’s also my coach, which is really good.
“As you know, when we’re in the pool, it’s a coach/athlete, and then we’re best friends, which I think works really well for us.”
Titmus and Boxall now have their sights set on the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships, which starts tomorrow in Adelaide, and it’s clear the 21-year-old superstar just wants one man in her corner.
“He is a unique person, there is no one else like him, so I think when we work very well together.
“I’m not going to have another relationship like that with anyone else, so I’m very grateful to have met Dean and to work with him and have him by my side.”
Bond forged over time
The laconic Boxall is a little less effusive than his swimmer, but he clearly puts his athletes, his dreams, his success, his well-being, above all else.
When Titmus is told that he thinks they are the best athlete-coach duo in the sport, the 45-year-old has a wry smile.
“Arnie might need to check out other sports. I think Rafael and Toni were pretty good. I mean, we have a really good relationship,” he says, glancing at his knowledge of tennis.
But he points out that the bond that was forged between him and Titmus didn’t happen overnight.
“That [closeness] That’s why I can push her and she’s not offended by any of it.
“But, you know, it’s something that has developed, it wasn’t just a snap of the fingers.
“You have to have a lot of confidence. That also comes with a lot of responsibility.
“I mean, she’s a great girl, but I have a great relationship with most of the guys on the team, and you have to build that.
“There are a lot of dreams at stake. So you have to dream about them.”
‘I don’t read textbooks, I read my athletes’
Any swimmer or coach who watched Titmus’s brilliantly executed swim to topple Ledecky in Tokyo would realize how much thought and planning, not to mention hard work, would have gone into achieving that moment.
But Boxall’s undoubted tactical genius did not come from a book or a course.
“I don’t go and read textbooks, I read my athletes,” he says.
“I read the event. I read the competitors. And I will try to create something.
“I don’t take courses. I just read my boys and the sport that exists. I don’t think it’s a secret.”
Boxall enjoys working as a coach for the Western Swim Club of St Peter for major events such as these national championships.
Some of his other charges include Elijah Winnington, Shayna Jack and Molly O’Callaghan, and Boxall says he has a unique relationship with each of them.
“Some people think it’s a job. It’s not a job.
“A job is you get up and you’re like, ‘Oh, I have Mondayitis.’
“I think they are a great group. I believe in them. They believe in me.
“They believe in St Peters Western. They can’t wait to represent Australia. I love representing Australia, I think it’s the best thing you can do.”
‘That’ moment at the Olympics
Boxall says the Olympics were “weird.”
It describes the strange feeling of climbing the mountain that is the Olympics and then coming home through COVID isolation and moving on to the next part of the season.
“Because the Olympics were so different, you know, we’re done with the competition, in 24 hours we’re on a charter flight.
“No alcohol, straight to Howard Springs, no alcohol, basically in a small room. Just waiting to get out. I didn’t get a chance to have a steak with my friends or a beer, or even reflect a little bit with the athletes. We were all in different compartments.
Did you mention there was no alcohol?
Boxall says his Hulk-berserker moment was the culmination of all the tension leading up to the Olympics and that event in particular.
“I think the moment I let go was because of so much buildup, you know Arnie had to deal with a shoulder injury, there’s a lot of pressure, you know NBC actually flew in to basically launch this race as the big race. of the Olympic Games, not just for swimming.
“Even trying to get there through COVID. It was another kind of pressure and stress to deal with, having to wear masks and we had tests every day. And if someone got COVID, they couldn’t fly.
He says that people connected through that moment amid the fear and isolation of the pandemic.
“I think it was probably like a perfect storm. People were cooped up watching, probably feeling [they were] wanting to get the joy watching that race too.
“That moment with Arnie, it was like a moment where those people in the room who were watching, they could stand up and jump and cheer for Australia. I think that’s the best thing you can give someone.”
Aware , updated