How St Peters coach stumbled on secret to swimming success
When your most talented athletes are also the hardest working, it creates a culture of success that permeates a group.
To borrow from the famous adage, a rising tide lifts all boats.
That simple fact is the secret to success for elite Brisbane-based swim club St Peters Western, so says head coach Dean Boxall.
In Mitch Larkin and Ariarne Titmus, Boxall boasts a pair of world-class athletes who not only set the tone in competition, but also during training.
“People know the standard that Ariarne Titmus sets in training, so those guys that are coming up trying to learn from her then reach the (training) standard and start to evolve and really move forward,” Boxall said.
“Mitchy’s standard in training is phenomenal; it’s one of the best I’ve seen. He brings the younger ones up with him and you know that’s then a competitive environment.”
Boxall, the 2017 and 2019 Australian Youth and Age Coach of the Year, says his squad is “lucky” to have such quality culture setters in its midst.
“We understand the relationship between hard work and success. We’re lucky that our best swimmers are hard trainers,” he said.
“Some programs, their best swimmers aren’t the hardest trainers and that sets their culture. We’ve got a very strong culture.”
Speaking from Mackay, where his squad is in the throes of pre-season preparations, Boxall used rising young star Mollie O’Callaghan as an example of what a positive competitive environment can do for an athlete.
“Mollie came to us from a program where she was swimming very well, but she didn’t have the talent around her. St Peters offers that talent,” Boxall said.
“When she came into the program she wasn’t the fastest, so on any given day she was always chasing someone – and then someone was chasing her.
“That competitive environment helps you lift and that’s our group dynamic. When you come in, you know there are people above you and people trying to chase you, so you really have to be on your game.”
In a unique sport like swimming, where training is done as a group but competition and performance are ultimately individual, Boxall feels he has found the right mix.
“When you’re behind the blocks you’re by yourself. You have to be able to stand alone in the competitive battlefield and you get that just by swimming,” he said.
“When I say two, one and go, technically, you’re by yourself; with your thoughts, the battle, it’s all you. But once you come in, the squad is around you and supporting you.”