Following his departure from Swimming Canada’s High-Performance Center in Toronto, Ben Titley will be taking over as head coach at the Sant Cugat National Training Centre in Spain.
After nearly 10 years of coaching in Canada, Titley will be heading back to Europe to lead Spain’s national training center as a part of Spanish Swimming and the Spanish Sport Council’s “Team-Spain Elite.” Titley will join forces with National Performance Director Sean Kelly and current national training center coach Olaf Wildeboer.
Kelly was hired to take over as National Performance Director back in 2020 as a part of the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation’s (REFN) “restructuring” plan, the main goal of which is to achieve improved results at the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.
Most of Titley’s elite swimming experience has been in National Training Center formats: prior to Toronto, he led the Loughborough ITC in his native England.
Titley took charge in Canada in the lead-up to the Rio 2016 Games and had an immediate impact by coaching teen sensation Penny Oleksiak to two individual medals, including 100 freestyle gold. His elite sprint group consisting of Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck, Sandrine Mainville, Michelle Williams, and Chantal van Landeghem also got onto the podium in the 4×100 freestyle relay, while Ruck and Oleksiak also contributed to Canada’s 4×200 freestyle bronze in 2016.
As Titley’s training squad in Toronto grew in the wake of its 2016 success, the High-Performance Centre in Toronto became one of the leading sprint groups in the world. Titley coached a large group of athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Games including medalists Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse, Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith, Taylor Ruck, Maggie MacNeil, and Sydney Pickrem.
Titley has also coached Canadian record holders Yuri Kisil, Finlay Knox, and Josh Liendo, who all raced for Canada at the Tokyo Games. Among the biggest stars that Titley will be parting ways with is 15-year-old Summer McIntosh who swam to a 4th place finish in the 400 freestyle in Tokyo when she posted a 4:02.42 national record.
Titley will find Spain in a relatively similar position to where Canada was in 2012. Spain sent a 10-strong team to the Olympics in 2021 and wound up with a couple of individual finalists, but no medals at the meet. 2016 Olympic Champion and multi-world record holder Mireia Belmonte got the closest by finishing 4th in the 400 IM with a 4:35.13.
In 2012, Canada won 2 medals in pool swimming courtesy of Brent Hayden and Ryan Cochrane and then went on to collect 6 in 2016 and 6 in 2021 after Titley took over (10 out of 12 of those medals came from a Titley-coached swimmer).
Titley expressed his excitement about making the move to Spain, saying that “with two 10-lane 50m pools (indoor and outdoor), multiple weight room facilities, full sports science, and medical support, a running track and beautiful weather, the Performance environment has the opportunity to be world-leading and a real focal point of the worlds greatest aquatic athletes.”
On a personal note, Titley added that “this move is just as important and exciting for my family. My wife and her daughter are French-born in a place very close to the Catalonian border, our future twins will be born in Catalunya, and with many immediate family within a 90-minute drive of the beautiful Monastery town of Sant Cugat, it is a challenge that suits us all at this point in our journey through life!”
Spain gives Titley easy access to both his wife’s home in France and his home in England.