By Kelsey Reese//USA Swimming Communications Intern
Editor’s Note: Every Friday, usaswimming.org will publish “Coaches You Should Know” featuring some of the best age group and grassroots coaches in the nation. This week, we bring you ASCA’s Central California 2012 Age Group Coach of the Year, Ben Britten.
Ben Britten has coached at Clovis Swim Club for the past 7 years. Britten serves on the USA Swimming Board of Directors as the Western Zone Coach Director, he’s also the Director of the Summer Recreation Swim League at Clovis. Furthermore, Britten is also actively involved in the community, coaching at local schools.
Britten has a history of being a strong swimmer; throughout his career at Redwood High School (Visalia, Calif.), he won multiple titles at the Valley Championships and earned several All-American automatic times. Britten was able to successfully continue his swim career in college, as a proud member of the U.C. Santa Barbara swim team.
How did you first get into swimming?
I first tried out for swim team when I was 9. I kept hanging out on the lane lines but I was a pretty bad swimmer. I didn’t make the team and then I went back out for the rec league team when I was 13. I was a little bigger and stronger by then, so I made the team. Then I did pretty well at rec league so they told me I should join the club team.
When did you progress into coaching?
From there I went and swam at U.C. Santa Barbara, then after that I graduated and was going to go work on my Masters degree in Fresno. I needed a job to do while I was doing my Masters and I started coaching because I had swam for a local swim club for about a year before. I kind of fell into it and have been coaching ever since; I’ve been coaching here now for 7 years!
What is one of your most memorable moments from coaching?
I wouldn’t say there is just one moment that I have. I coach the kind of faster ten year olds and more average 11 and 12 years olds, just working with them and helping them achieve their goals. Once they really get to their goal meet—like right now we have the Junior Olympics, and they will go on from there to Zones or Westerns—and once they achieve that goal they get really excited and their parents are so excited. Just working with them in general, I have an opportunity to mold young children every day, to teach them life lessons and everything like that. I think it’s a really exciting opportunity every day and every time we go to practice, the kids learn something about themselves and something about the sport; it’s very educational for them as well.
Describe your coaching philosophy
My coaching philosophy is that I focus a lot on the little things. We tend to start sets over a lot if they are doing little things wrong. For instance, if they are breathing off the walls, if their turns are sloppy, we will start a set over, even if it’s a long set, even if we’re almost done with practice; I’ll make them start over sometimes. Once you do that a couple times, they get it right, and they work on it really well in practice and then you don’t have to do that anymore. The swimmers don’t like me for a couple weeks but then, after that, when they see the results in their swimming, they understand why I do things that way.