Ben Titley To Take Over As Head Coach Of Sant Cugat NTC In Barcelona

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.

Just last week, McIntosh threw down a pair of world junior records when she swam a 4:29.12 400 IM and a 2:05.81 in the 200 butterflies.

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).

Spain has a number of potential medal contenders in coming years including NCAA standout Hugo Gonzalez, Joan Lluís Pons Ramon, Lidón Muñoz, Jessica Vall, Africa Zamorano, and Jimena Pérez.

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.

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Swim mom
1 year ago

What a great loss to Canada! I hoped so much that my son would train in Ben’s program next season. There are no reasons anymore to stay in Canada, moving to train in US :-(((

Corn Pop
Reply to  Swim mom
1 year ago

Rather than complain , be thankful you have these choices As we’ve seen , freedom of movement can be taken away by the stroke of a pen .

Plus coaches are not there for your convenience , they have a life to live . Certainly I think having twins in sunny Spain beats hauling them around in the snow.

Last edited 1 year ago by Corn Pop
1 year ago

He took the Brett Hawke podcast interview while he was in Spain. He said right at the beginning of the interview he was just outside of Barcelona after a week in Canat.
If you think one of the best swim coaches in the world didn’t have a departure plan, I think you may be a bit naive to how well some coaches plan their next steps. I can’t fathom a reality where a man like Ben didn’t realize his contract was coming and didn’t get it sorted well before it’s expiration date.

A great opportunity for Ben and a great opportunity for Canada to attract a new high caliber coach.

Reply to  kolo
1 year ago

He’s not in Spain right now. He said, he’s in Florida with his family.

Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

I didn’t realize there was a second one that just came out. I meant the first one they did where they discussed his success in Tokyo; he was in Spain at that time.

Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

That doesn’t mean he wasn’t there to check out the location, go house hunting, or negotiate a contract…

Time For Barta To Go
Reply to  kolo
1 year ago

” …. Canada to attract a new high caliber coach.”

Yes – certainly wishing their team and athletes well. But whomever that new high caliber coach ends up being, Canada will undoubtedly now be faced with providing that person an iron-clad contract, plenty of safety nets (for the coach) and more money. That’s the cost that comes with this type of coach adios.

I Bench
1 year ago

Spain next swimming powerhouse but the s is silent

Last edited 1 year ago by I Bench
1 year ago

People have framed this as SNC messing up by not keeping Ben, but couldn’t it have been that Ben wanted to head back to Europe and be closer to family so he played super hardball with SNC?

Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
1 year ago

Based off the ages of his athletes its safe to assume SNC got rid of him. All of his athletes are young any coach would want to see this generation of athletes through to the end of their careers. I’m sure he asked for a raise but if I was part of SNC you’d do what you had to in order to keep him if your goal was to improve Canadian swimmers. I hope he enjoys his new job though and all the best.

SoCal Strong
Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
1 year ago

I think Ben played this perfectly. He worked over the Canadian hoi polloi like a yoyo. I think you’re exactly right – read how he talks about being closer to family – he probably said “ya know for a 50% raise I could spend another 3 years in Canada. For less than that, I’m going home, and now I can let everyone blame it on SNC.”

It’s working

Master strategist. Pretty brilliant I must say.

1 year ago

Spain’s about to produce a Lionel Messi type talent in the pool in the foreseeable future.

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Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

Was about to say are we gonna Hugo Gonzalez train under him now and be the first big name?

Reply to  Swimfan
3 months ago

Messi is Argentinian.

1 year ago

This is for the best. Canada’s powers were becoming too strong!

Swim or Die
1 year ago

A huge win for Spain – A huge loss for Canada.
I hope you are happy Atkinson….

1 year ago

Congratulations! They are getting a good one!