Benjamin Proud, also known as Ben, is an English sprinter and a two-time 2014 Commonwealth Games champion at just 19 years old. Born Sept. 21, 1994 to Nick and Sally Proud, Ben has improved quickly to become one of the world’s fastest swimmers. In a field full of seasoned athletes, Proud is making his own waves at such a young age.
Although born in London, Proud was raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and lived there until he was 16 years old. In Malaysia he competed for Alice Smith School, which he joined at the age of seven and was its team’s youngest member. He was trained by Francis Kiu – a coach who Proud claims taught him all of the fundamental basics and gave him his technique. At 16 Proud made the decision to move back to England, and make a career out of the sport.
Early swimming in Malaysia
Proud experienced his first international competitions in Malaysia – he won the 50m butterfly and finished second in the 50m freestyle at the Malaysian Open. Previously he had swum at the national age groups.
Proud is a raw sprinter, and has a passion for the 50’s. He says that 50m races were a huge event in Malaysia, even mentioning that it’s a “test of speed” and really nothing else. Proud works to stay calm and relaxed before a race, a tactic that he picked up on while watching some of the world’s best at the 2013 World Championships.
Training in England
When returning to England Proud trained with Jon Rudd at Plymouth Leander, and quickly moved up the ranks. He soon won silver at in the 50m butterfly and took fifth in the 50m freestyle at the 2012 European Junior Championships.
2013 World Championships
At some of his first competitions back in England, Proud swam at the British World Championship trials, he broke the British 50m butterfly record, earning a place on the 2013 World Championship team. In Barcelona, he finished 11th in the 50m butterfly and 18th in the 50m freestyle.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games Proud won his first senior-level gold medals at an international competition – he won both the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle. Just a bit later that year, he competed at his first European Championships, winning bronze in the 50m butterfly and gold in the 400m medley relay.
2015 World Championships
Proud made improvements from his first to his second World Championships, making the final and finishing 8th in both the 50 freestyle and butterfly.
2016 Rio Olympics
In his signature event, Proud finished an agonizing fourth in the final, one of seven fourth places for Great Britain at the Games. He touched in 21.68, 0.19 behind bronze medalist Nathan Adrian. He also swam the 100 meter freestyle in Rio, finishing 29th in 49.14.
2017 FINA World Championships
On day two of World Championships, Proud rocked a new British Record time of 22.75 in the 50m butterfly to edge out Brazilian veteran Nicholas Santos (22.79) for gold. On day seven in the men’s 50m freestyle final Proud won bronze in 21.43
2018 Commonwealth Games
Ben Proud continued his speed streak at the 2018 comm games, winning the 50 free by nearly half a second with a 21.35. Expected as a favorite in the 50 fly as well, he didn’t get the opportunity to defend his title as he was disqualified in the prelims for a false start.
Proud also helped England to a pair of silvers in both the 4×100 free and medley relays.
2018 Sette Colli Trophy
In June of 2018, Proud competed at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy. On the first day of competition, Proud won the 50 free in a time of 21.16, giving him a new British record and the title of 4th fastest performer of all time. This also threw him into the conversation of competing for with Caeleb Dressel for a world title and #1 ranking.
On the third day of competition, expected to give Andriy Govorov a run for his money in the 50 fly, Govorov ended up stealing the show, shattering the 50 fly world record in a time of 22.27. Proud touched for second at 22.93.
2018 European Championships
Proud saved his best burst of speed for last at the 2018 euros. After earning a silver in the 50 fly behind WR holder Andrii Govorov, Proud went into the 50 free a favorite. After cruising through prelims, he blasted a 21.11 in the first semi, breaking his own national record as well as the meet record, and becoming the 3rd fastest performer of all time (fastest in a textile suit). Though he didn’t repeat or better his time in finals, he did touch the wall first at 21.34, becoming the European champion in the 50 free for the first time.
2021 European Championships
In Budapest, Proud earned a silver in the 50 free with a 21.69.
2021 Short Course World Championships
In Abu Dhabi, Proud won his first short course world title, touching first in the 50 free in a time of 20.45.
2022 World Championships
In Budapest, Proud stuck to his same lineup of 50 fly and 50 free. In the 50 fly, Proud was top seed at 22.76 heading into the final, but dropped to a 23.08 and finished 7th overall.
Proud got redemption in the 50 free, swimming 21.4 in the semis and 21.32 in the final to take gold and gain his first LCM world title in the 50 free.
2022 Commonwealth Games
In Birmingham, at his second home Commonwealth Games, Proud defended his title in the 50 free, 3-peating in a time of 21.36, winning by over .3. He also won gold in the 50 fly (22.81), again winning by over .3 and avenging his DQ from the same meet in 2018.
2022 European Championships
In Rome, Proud scratched the 50 fly to focus solely on the 50 free. This paid off for him, as he clocked 21.40 in the semi-finals to take top seed in the final, then touched for gold in 21.58 in the final, .02 ahead of Italy’s Leonardo Deplano.
At the end of the 2021-22 season, Ben Proud accomplished a feat in a single event that no other swimmer ever had in a 1-year timeframe: Short course world champion, long course world champion, commonwealth champion, and European champion.
2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)
In the 50 fly, Proud was solid, advancing through prelims (23.27) and semis (22.96) before placing 5th in 22.91. He similarly managed his round sof the 50 free. Proud was 21.90 through prelims for 7th. In semis, he pulled a good lane for the final with a 21.61 for 3rd. In the final, it was all Cam McEvoy in 21.06 but Proud still snagged a medal in 21.68 for bronze, just .01 back from Jack Alexy’s silver.