2023 Swammy Awards: Oceanian Coach of the Year – Dean Boxall

See all of our 2023 Swammy Awards here.

For the third straight time, the Swammy Award for Oceania Coach of the Year goes to Dean Boxall, as the Australian led his athletes to continued success on the international stage in 2023.

Boxall, who leads the St. Peters Western program in Brisbane, coached 10 of the 38 swimmers on this year’s Australian World Championship team. Each of his 10 athletes came home with a medal of some color, and 7 left with at least one gold medal.

Here is the full Fukuoka roster of athletes from the St. Peters Western pool squad: 

Highlighting Boxall’s squad was Mollie O’Callaghan, who swept the 100 and 200 freestyle races in Fukuoka. She took the 100 in a swift 52.16, after taking down the world record in the 200 free (1:52.85) en route to her other individual gold. O’Callaghan also led off the record-breaking 4×100 freestyle relay in 52.08, which ends the year as the second-fastest time in the world. O’Callaghan walked away from Fukuoka with six medals, five of which were gold and four of which came in world record fashion.

In addition to her freestyle success, O’Callaghan’s 58.42 in the 100 backstroke from 2023 ranks her as the 5th fastest of 2023. She only sits behind world record holder Kaylee McKeown and three Americans (Regan Smith, Katharine Berkoff, and Claire Curzan).

Ariarne Titmus was another highlight in Fukuoka, as she reclaimed her world record in the 400 free (3:55.38) to win by over three seconds. She had a great meet in Fukuoka, helping the Australian 4×200 relay to gold and a world record towards the middle of the meet. She also picked up silver in the individual 200 free (in a personal best time of 1:53.01), and snagged bronze in the 800 free (equaling her best time and Commonwealth record, 8:13.59).

Jenna Forrester had a big international breakthrough under Boxall this year, after a domestic breakout in 2022. Last year, she posted a massive best time of 4:36.77 at the Australian Trials to make the Worlds and Commonwealth team, after just missing the Olympic team in 2021. At the World Championships, she posted a 4:42.39 in the final of the 400 IM to place 7th. She posted 4:41.80 in the final at the Commonwealth Games, touching in 6th. Her time from Trials would’ve been fast enough for 4th at Worlds and silver at Commonwealths, so she struggled a bit on the international scene after her massive drop in the 400 IM at the Australian Trials.

However, come 2023, Boxall and Forrester clearly figured some things out. Forrester was consistently fast since April, posting similarly fast swims in both IM races through to the World Championships. She peaked when it counted, ripping a massive best time of 4:32.30 in the final to secure a bronze medal. She also placed 4th in the 200 IM in a best time of 2:08.98 and 8th in the 200 back (2:11.44) in Fukuoka.

Another part of Boxall’s year that can’t go without mentioning is the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay at the World Championships. The relay was composed of four swimmers who train under the tutelage of Boxall, combining for a massive world record effort. You can read more about the swim here. Highlighting the relay was the anchor leg from Titmus, who threw down a time of 1:52.41 – the fastest split in history, taking down the previous mark of 1:52.82 (which she set herself a year prior at the Commonwealth Games).

Even though the Australians broke their own world record by nearly two seconds, there is a clear pathway to drop even more time in the event. O’Callaghan led off in 1:53.66, nearly a full second slower than the individual world record she set earlier in the meet (1:52.85). Shayna Jack split 1:55.63 on the second leg, and she was as swift as 1:55.37 flat start in April.

The 4×200 has always been one of those relays where everyone usually isn’t all firing at their best (this goes for most teams, not just Australia), especially with the big schedules most of the athletes have who contest this relay. However, the potential is there for Australia to chop off another second or two, if all the stars align on the day. Even with all that potential, they’re still over three seconds ahead of the rest of the world as is – with four swimmers from the same club team in Brisbane.

Another footnote for Boxall is his contribution to the women’s 100 freestyle dynasty in Australia. Known for their depth in the event, Boxall boasts the nation’s top two swimmers in the event in the form of Mollie O’Callaghan (52.08) and Shayna Jack (52.28). Both swimmers will have to be firing on all cylinders come trials next year, as those top two prized positions will be hotly contested.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Damien Jones Damien Jones, who coaches Sam Short at Rackley, had a great year of coaching. He led Short to three medal performances in Fukuoka, highlighted by the 3:40.68 recorded in the final of the 400 free to secure gold. The swim by Short was the fastest swim since the London 2012 Olympics, where Sun Yang barely missed the world record with a time of 3:40.14. Short secured silver in the 800 (7:37.76) and bronze in the 1500 (14:37.28) – all in massive best times once again. Thomas Neill also trains at the Rackley program, and had a big bounceback this year to make the Worlds team in the IM events. More known as a freestyler, he swam both IM races at Worlds before posting his fastest times of the year (and best times) at the recent Queensland Championships: 1:57.41 & 4:13.43 in the 200/400 IM. Although his freestyle in the long course pool has been a bit off since 2021, he recently posted a time of 1:45.78 in the 200 free at the Queensland Championships – just shy of his 1:45.70 PB from 2021. Notably, Meg Harris has also recently joined the Rackley squad in the lead-up to Paris.
  • Michael BohlMichael Bohl coached Kaylee McKeown to three individual world records in 2023, all in the LCM backstroke events. McKeown also swept those three events at the Fukuoka World Championships, and boasted times of 2:07.19 and 4:31.68 in the 200/400 IMs to rank 3rd worldwide this year. Bohl is known for peaking his swimmers during the Olympic year (from August following the previous World Championships through to the Games), and McKeown was the first sign of that – breaking two world records this past October. It was certainly a bold, risky move to change coaches following a three gold medal performance at the Tokyo Games – but it is clearly paying off for the backstroke phenom.

Past Winners:

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Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
5 months ago

Winner of hair of the year too

ooo
5 months ago

OT. Looks like Bob Bowman will try to improve his French this summer.

Tea rex
5 months ago

I don’t follow who trains where that closely, so I’m genuinely curious, not throwing shade:

Have any elite swimmers gone to him then left, or stagnated? He’s got quite the dream team there, I’d be amazed if nobody burnt out, or egos clashed, or wasn’t getting enough individual attention.

Southerly Buster
Reply to  Tea rex
5 months ago

Meg Harris was in Boxall’s squad when she swam at Tokyo Olympics but left soon after for Peter Bishop’s Adelaide squad. Meg’s friendship with Madi Wilson seemed to be a big reason why she went to Adelaide. After Fukuoka Harris returned to her home state of Queensland but did not rejoin Boxall’s squad.

Meg seems to be one of those people who get along with everyone so maybe it was just that Boxall’s style wasn’t for her.

Joel
Reply to  Tea rex
5 months ago

Clyde Lewis? But he might be back now.
It seems the female swimmers in general are more successful – their bodies may cope better with the harder work outs. That’s what an old coach told me back in the day.

Troyy
Reply to  Tea rex
5 months ago

Larkin was there for a few years and left after Tokyo.

Jimmyswim
5 months ago

7 of his swimmers won gold medals. No other coach in the world comes even close to this.

Marc P
Reply to  Jimmyswim
5 months ago

I’m trying to think other coach who’s done it in Fukuoka. How many Bowman’s swimmers won gold in Fukuoka?

Jimmyswim
Reply to  Marc P
5 months ago

I believe it was 3. Marchand (3), Kos (1) and Smith (1).

Compared to Boxall who had Mollie (5), Jack (3), Titmus (2), Cartwright (2), Throssell (2), Taylor (1) and Melverton (1)

Hooked on Chlorine
5 months ago

I love Boxall, not only because he is the best swimming coach in the world but because he pisses off so many bloody annoying American swimming fans. Down vote me if you agree.

Last edited 5 months ago by Hooked on Chlorine
Swimmer
5 months ago

I can’t believe bohly has never won this!

Sub13
Reply to  Swimmer
5 months ago

He would have won in 2008 if it existed then

Troyy
Reply to  Swimmer
5 months ago

Needs to have both Emma and Kaylee peak in the same year to overcome Boxall.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Troyy
5 months ago

But he did at Tokyo- still wasn’t enough?

Troyy
Reply to  Fraser Thorpe
5 months ago

Kaylee was with Mooney until after Tokyo.

Andy
Reply to  Swimmer
5 months ago

Crazy when he’s coached 3 of Australia’s all time greatest swimmers! Rice McKeon and McKeown would have 11 Olympic golds between them

Andrew
5 months ago

Bro just got the nearest railing pregnant

Boxall's Railing
Reply to  Andrew
5 months ago

I’m due in August, and it’s our fourth. Four more than I wanted.

Sub13
5 months ago

And let’s be honest: he is the obvious worldwide coach of the year if you awarded that

Marc P
Reply to  Sub13
5 months ago

Bowman is arguably in strong contention for that title.

Troyy
Reply to  Marc P
5 months ago

Good point. Does Cui Dengrong coach any top swimmers besides Qin and Zhang? Maybe he’d be a contender too.

Sub13
Reply to  Marc P
5 months ago

He didn’t even win American coach of the year.

Bowman would certainly be up there. But Boxall coached 5 world records this year, 2 individual and 3 relay, with 5 of his swimmers involved.

His top swimmers all exceeded expectations and his group as a whole greatly exceeded expectations. You can’t say that for Bowman.

Marc P
Reply to  Sub13
5 months ago

True.

I just realized that Bowman’s top swimmers already showed great talent and won international medals before they joined him (Marchand, Kos, Regan Smith, Kharun). Bowman is a great coach and help his swimmers fullfil their potential.

Boxall coach his swimmers to exceed their potential.

snailSpace
Reply to  Sub13
5 months ago

Kos definitely exceeded expectations when he won the 200 back in what was the biggest upset of the meet. But other than him Marchand performed as expected (although even with the absence of Milak he wasn’t heavy favourite in the 200 fly because Honda), and Regan arguably minimally underperformed.
But that’s just nit-picking on my part; Boxall definitely takes best coach of 2023.