PHOENIX, Arizona, August 17. BEN Titley is one of the most respected coaches in the world, and he joins today's edition of The Morning Swim Show to talk about training two of the best swimmers in the world and his new technological venture.
Liam Tancock and Fran Halsall are the top swimmers Titley coaches at the Loughborough ITC in the United Kingdom, and he talks about their performances at the world championships and how he will work with them – as well as his other swimmers – in the months leading up to the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games. He also details the iPhone app he's created to help coaches and swimmers with freestyle technique. Watch the full show in the video player below and visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Show Transcript: (Note: This is an automated service where some typos and grammatical errors may occur.)
Jeff Commings: This is the Morning Swim Show for Wednesday, August 17th, 2011. I'm your host Jeff Commings and in the FINIS Monitor today, we have one of the most respected coaches not only in Great Britain but in the world. Ben Titley joins us in the FINIS Monitor from a Thai restaurant in Loughborough, England. Coach, welcome back to the show, how are you doing?
Ben Titley: I'm doing great. Thanks Jeff. Thanks for having me. It is funny you say a Thai restaurant. I was, and now you said in the FINIS Monitor. I'm actually in the shoe cupboard. Look, have a look at this. Like there are some shoes and it is pretty stinky in here so hopefully this won't take too long.
Jeff: Well we are not broadcasting in aroma-scope so we won't be able to smell that at all, but this is I guess on the Morning Swim Show the first interview from a shoe cupboard. So thanks for taking the time. So you had— tell me what your— on a scale of 1 to 10, what was it like for you and your athletes at world championships?
Ben: On a scale to 1 to 10, I put it probably on something like an 8.5. I think we had a great meet in terms of – and this is my personal athletes, 6 athletes at the championships. We had a great meet in terms of everybody did either textile best times or best times period or best times in the last 18 months, so every one of my athletes did something they were really proud of and it would have been nice if we had a few more medals. We missed I think my groups, my group of athletes, we missed three medals by combined time of 0.3 of a second. And so that in 3 events combined time of 0.3 that is a very frustrating meet compared to what we actually came away with, but the great thing for us is that everybody is in a great place for next year for home Olympics and they all swam well, so yeah I'm looking forward to the next 12 months.
Jeff: Yeah I know a couple of the athletes that you are ta;king about that just missed medals, Liam Tancock in the 100 backstroke, Fran Halsall in the 100 free; I believe she tied for 4th, but I mean there is something to take away from that. Liam was able to defend his world championship in the 50 backstroke so I mean not— all-in-all I mean you definitely like I said 8.5 is nothing to be upset about.
Ben: No. Listen Jeff, I mean I was super pleased with it. For Liam to defend that title in the field that included people like Camille Lacourt, who is one of the hottest people in the world of swimming right now, was a great achievement for him. And actually for Liam, I don't know how many people have done this through events, but that is actually the 4th consecutive world championships. He has won a medal of whichever description in that 50 backstroke so 2005, 2007, 2009 and now 20011 that is 4 consecutive years to be all warm up years, but 4 consecutive championships to be ranked in the top couple in the world that is good going. And with regards to Fran Halsall, I mean she really had almost only had 3, 4, 5 months of real training. I mean to be honest from the 3 or 4 months of real training because of a medical operation she had to have in December 2010, so for her to even be in the ballpark and missed like you said she missed a medal in 100 free but I think it was 0.08 of a second and in 50 free which she is you know, it is tough for somebody who is only 5 foot 6 to compete with girls who are 6 foot, 6 foot one but I mean she was only .11 away from a medal in that and did a best time. So all in all I think we have got to be pleased with what happened.
Jeff: Well let's talk about those two. Obviously, the 50 back is not an Olympic event so what do you do to get Liam ready to you know fight for a position in the medals in the 100?
Ben: I think it really is just a matter of time. I mean Liam has been there or thereabout in 100 back as long as I can remember. I mean in 2005. It was kind of his first world championships and he medaled in the 50 … and in 2006 he won Commonwealth games in the 100 backstroke and placed well at Europeans. In 2007, he actually won a bronze medal I think in the 100 meter backstroke at the world championships. In 2008, the Olympics in Beijing he missed a medal by 0.19 or 0.21 of a second in the 100 back and was 5th or 6th. In 2009, he missed a medal in 100 back by 8/100ths of a second and came fourth. In 2010, he won Commonwealth games. He medaled at Europeans in 100 backstroke and again this year he finished, I think it was 5th and missed the medal by 0.2 of a second. So I mean we are talking fractions. I would like think that if he gets it right on his day, and he always does. He is a class performer. I have never seen him not perform at the major meet. And that, he will be in the mix, that is all we can hope I think but you know if I was allowed to bet money Jeff, I would bet money on him and get him up at the Olympics next year. Why not?
Jeff: Well he is going to definitely have a crowd behind him, I mean that is— that more than anything is going to be a motivation for him, I imagine.
Ben: For sure, for sure. So if that can make a difference in all those times he missed out by less than a 10th of a second or between 0.8 and 0.21 then you know we will take that. We will take whatever we can get.
Jeff: So you mentioned Fran had some setbacks last year, she had ankle surgery and we know that at the Commonwealth games it got a little bit of what everybody was calling Delhi-belly. How is our confidence level right now especially after getting so close to medals at worlds?
Ben: Really, really good. I mean we even spoke, and this is going back way before the operation when she was swimming well in 2009 and ‘10. We actually spoke about the chance of maybe just saying well look let's not … I'm not putting focus on 2011 but with all the pressure that comes here with the home Olympics you know if someone is a gold medalist a year before it is slightly different than the States. You know in the States you have all your big hitting sports like your American Football, your baseball and that kind of takes the pressure off a lot of the swimmers I guess. But here next year we have only really got soccer as you guys would call it and after that then the Olympics is going to be the big deal, so if you are going in around number one you are going to have an awful lot of distractions and everything else. Now don't, you know don't get me wrong. I would have preferred Fran Halsall to come away with different medals from world champs, but for her to come away with textile best times in 100 free and the 50 free. But I hope next year she will be in the 100 fly and when she swam a 57.4 this year, just a month before the world championships. That without all that added pressure and expectation and demand to time I guess to sponsors in that. I mean first off when I saw a 4th place twice there was probably a swear word, but my second thought was probably, well hold on when we start back training seriously on August the 23rd, I'm actually going to have this girl in my program rather than off doing TV shows or photo shoots of those things and I think she is really excited about that. She has matured so much as an athlete and as a person and then she is a pleasure to work with, so I'm really looking forward to the next 12 months on lots of levels.
Jeff: As a coach how do you keep the pressure level down for the swimmers, especially since they are getting ready for an Olympics in their home country?
Ben: I think it is just keeping their feet on the ground. I mean that. They're fortunate that they are in a group that has had an a fair amount of success over the years, so the other athletes around them are kind of used to that and they kind of see how someone like a Liam or whoever really sort of bounces off of those expectations and really turns them all into an excitement and I think that is what we have to focus on in Great Britain next year is to not get carried away with the expectations or the fact that is a home Olympics or whatever it is. I mean to quote a guy called Chris Cook who was an international breaststroker Commonwealth Champion back in the day. He always used to say "Ben, it is just two lengths of the best and really that is all it will be you know it will be two lengths of the best on who can get a back side and who can get from one end or the other and back again in the quickest amount of time. So I think that to use the advantages of home Olympics like you say a crowd or just a conference and usually those things in a plus way but other than that you just said you know what it is two lengths of the best. If I can get from here to here and back again quicker than everybody else I will be a happy man or woman.
Jeff: That is a great philosophy, I really like that. Now you are one of the few coaches that have gotten into the technological side of swimming. You just released a smart phone app for swimming, tell us about that.
Ben: The owner of a Thai restaurant, he is a friend of mine called Hugh. He actually owns a company also that does a lot of website work, so actually his company does Liam Tancock's website, which is a great website. If you ever get a chance to look at it Liam is real big on his tweets and puts lots of content onto that, and he just approached me about doing something with regards to swimming. I mean the people that you get on this show to get interviewed, it is probably not too much that will help them on a massive level, but for 99.9% of swimmers out there, developing swimmers, I just wanted to do something that would help them with their swimming so just using some of the great freestyles that I have coached over the years. We have just put together an iPhone app and it is on the iPad as well and I think in the next month or so we will be on all the Droid Phones. It's freestyle swimming by Silver Hatch Sports and it really just takes you through the stroke of freestyle with regards to technique, pure swimming techniques and progressions of drills and some land work stuff but with real high quality. I think there are 39 videos in total on the app and there wasn't really anything too much like that out there at the moment and I certainly think with the quality of athletes that are on there and then on the various techniques that are have shown. It is something I'm really proud of actually. I'm really pleased with it.
Jeff: Are we going to see something regarding backstroke with Liam in the future?
Ben: You could well do, yeah I mean there is things in the pipeline to maybe do it with other strokes. We will see how this one works first and but it is a format I meant that they will. I'm on the iPhone now. It is not mine. It is someone else's you know my phone is just a regular phone, but I know that the world is getting more and more technological. But hey, you know people are now on their iPhones all the time. They are on their iPad 2 all the time. They are downloading videos. They are watching content and so I think it is a good way to relate with people.
Jeff: Well I agree with you not many people are doing it and it is definitely great resource especially because as you said everybody is getting on these iPhones.
Ben: Yeah for sure. So check it out, you want to get your cellphone freestyle swimming.
Jeff: Absolutely. Coach I understand you are about to take a holiday, where are you off to?
Ben: Well I actually had a small break after world champs, so I got invited by the South African Swimming Federation to go down there and do a couple of talks for their coaches so I went and spent awhile down in Johannesburg and actually ended up going for 4 or 5 nights in a place called Sun City, which I think is kind of their version of your Las Vegas. And I rode elephants and did all those sorts of things because I actually recently got married. I got married 4 weeks ago and I spent 3 weeks of those away at the World Champs in Japan and Shanghai and then South Africa so I kind of would like to do something to get myself back in the good book so hence, my new wife is going to come down to Sun City in Johannesburg and actually go down there and experience South Africa. South Africa was my way of trying to get back in the good book so probably as soon as I finished this I will go buy a Thai meal in the restaurant or maybe even for free we will see.
Jeff: Well congratulations on the new wedding and yeah I'm sure you are back in your good graces now. I'm sure she didn't mind.
Ben: We will see.
Jeff: Well coach thank you so much for joining us and all the best to you and your athletes as we get ready for London 2012.
Ben: Thank you very much and thanks again for your time.
Jeff: Alright that is Ben Titley joining us from a Thai restaurant on his iPhone. Definitely one thing we haven't seen on the Morning Swim Show. I'm Jeff Commings. Thanks for watching.
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