The Malta Independent 21 April 2019, Sunday

Exclusive interview with Ben Proud, British world champion swimming sprinter at Malta Swimming Camp

Domenic Aquilina Monday, 10 September 2018, 09:48 Last update: about 8 months ago
Photos: Domenic Aquilina
Photos: Domenic Aquilina

During the weekend of 1 and 2 September, the ASA of Malta hosted a swimming camp open to all aspiring young swimmers (aged 10-16). The hosts of the camp had the opportunity to be mentored by one of the fastest swimmers in the world - Britain's Ben Proud, who is the current reigning World Champion, Commonwealth and European champion.

Together with British Olympian Antony James, who is currently coaching at Plymouth Leander one of Britain's leading swim clubs and Matthew Zammit, local national champion and record holder, these three coaches brought together a vast blend of knowledge and experience including a BSc (Hons) in psychology and physiotherapy as well as their coaching and personal experience to provide a day full of information and inspiration to aspiring local swimmers.


Ben Proud, 23, is the World Champion sprinter in the 50m Butterfly and is also the first male British European Champion in the 50m Freestyle blue riband event for more than ten years.

Domenic Aquilina caught up with the Plymouth Leander athlete for an exclusive interview during the training camp at the National Pool in Tal-Qroqq, and this is what the British swimming champion had to say.


Your views about this swimming training camp in Malta

Ben Proud: Basically this whole thing is the result of three good friends with a passion to share within the next generation. That is basically how we put it. We have known each other for seven years, basically myself; Matt and Anthony James, basically swimming together, training together and living together and we all enjoy this sort of thing. We know that the next generation is coming on quite quickly so we want to give them as much attention as possible. Obviously with Matt (Matthew Zammit) here it is home, he is very passionate about Malta and he wants to make this as one of our regular spots. This is basically the first step of many so we can come to Malta show the kids and the local community what we are here to do. Purely to inspire and to give little tips which can mean a lot more. I mean we are trying to give as much possible we can and those one or two things, which they might bring into their training and can make them a bit better, improve their standard. Small improvements which every now can put their mind at rest and start the ball rolling.


You keep breaking records.  What is your secret behind your success and your future objectives?

Ben Proud: Obviously I am not telling you my secret (laughing). There is no secret to it. All I've done since I started swimming, I have been very fixed on my goal.  My goal and my dream is that of being the best and fastest athlete, the fastest swimmer that I can be and ever since I decided to do that, every decision I made was always that of edging to that point of getting better and better. 

I have no targets in mind. I set targets to help me improve but there is no end result. I get as fast as I can until I feel like I have done enough and there is nowhere to improve. Right now I still want to keep improving, keep challenging myself to become faster. Always it is just consistency from the training throughout.


What is the real feeling of breaking a record?

Ben Proud:  Yes, obviously it is very exciting. It is something I have never done before but I still have not reached the point and do not feel like saying to myself  "that was it". Everything is still kind of like "that was really good but I can do more than that" - and that is what drives me to keep going.  So after clocking 21:11 in the last Europeans, which is the third fastest time in history in the 50m free textile, I know I can get faster and I am waiting for that opportunity to get faster.

"It is exciting because sprinting, swimming and new sports is constantly improving, so I am just a person in front of it with many others who are going to be pushing on and I just want to do my best to get ahead and see how far I can push myself."


Your message to these aspiring young swimmers at this training camp in Malta

Ben Proud: It was very inspiring for me to meet these kids, very enthusiastic about swimming.  What I say to these kids is that from today take one or two things - set yourself about targets, start thinking about dreams, inside or outside swimming - it doesn't really matter but the things which we teach you today - those are the things which might make you a better person in the future.


At the beginning of August, Ben Proud became the third-fastest performer in history in the men's 50 free in textile, swimming a time of 21:11 in the European Championships semi-finals in Glasgow, Scotland.  Only Cesar Cielo (20:91) and Fred Bousquet (20.94) have ever been quicker.

Interesting to note that Benjamin got into a swimming pool at the age of one!

His memorable sporting achievement remains winning gold in the 50m Butterfly at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Matthew Zammit who is the liaison and organizer for the camp, also spoke about the camp "The inspiration behind the camp has always been the support I have been offered by local associations such as the ASA and my hope is that through this camp, and the things I, as well as my colleagues have learnt over the years will be able to be passed on to aspiring Maltese athletes, to help push the level of Maltese swimming even further."


Copyright © Domenic Aquilina/The Malta Independent

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