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Ariarne Titmus' coach goes viral after wild, gyrating celebration

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Elated but exhausted after dethroning Katie Ledecky, Australian swimming sensation Ariarne Titmus only had the energy to cover her face in disbelief and muster a satisfied smile.  

Higher up in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, however, it was a very different story. 

Dean Boxall, Titmus' brash, irrepressible coach, responded to Titmus' dramatic victory like the Ultimate Warrior celebrating a pinfall. The South African wildly ripped off his mask, pumped both his fists and thrust his hips against a glass railing after Titmus rallied late in Monday's hotly anticipated 400-meter freestyle final to edge Ledecky.

The celebration was so intense, so passionate that those around Boxall appeared unsure how to respond. Especially unnerved was an arena worker who initially tried to keep Boxall in his designated area only to realize the safer move was getting out of his way.

Those in swimming circles know this display of emotion was not out of character for Boxall. He is known as much for his flowing hair and boundless energy as he is for unlocking the potential of Titmus and other top swimmers at Australia's storied St. Peters Western swimming program in Brisbane.

Asked about her coach's joyous response to her victory, Titmus described it as "classic Dean." The Aussie said Boxall gets that excited because he "puts 100 percent into being a swimming coach" and sacrifices "loads of his family life, his kids and his wife, for his job." 

"But the thing that made me quite emotional was actually seeing him watch my medal ceremony," Titmus said. "He was crying and was trying to contain the emotions."

There was plenty for Boxall to celebrate on Monday after Titmus handed the legendary Ledecky the first individual loss in her glittering Olympic career. The duel lived up to weeks of hype too as Titmus swam the second fastest 400 freestyle in history and Ledecky produced the fourth fastest.

In an ironic twist, Titmus said her coach actually calmed her down entering the showdown with Ledecky. 

"Honestly, I thought I would be more nervous coming into this," she said. "But Dean just said to me, 'Look, you know how to swim, this is just a big swimming race.'"

Remarkable as the performances in the pool were, the elated reactions of those close to Titmus were just as good theater. In addition to Boxall's jubilance, Titmus' parents back home in Australia were overflowing with pride and hoarse from screaming.

"She's done it. She's actually done it," Titmus' father Steve said. 

Added Titmus' mother Robyn: "I'm just so proud of her. That 100 meters — the last 100! God she can race!"

Henry Bushnell contributed reporting from Tokyo.

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Dean Boxall (coach) discusses strategy with Ariarne Titmus during an Australian Dolphins Swimming Team Training Camp at Tobruk Pool on July 20, 2018 in Cairns, Australia.  (Photo by Delly Carr/Getty Images)
Dean Boxall (coach) discusses strategy with Ariarne Titmus during an Australian Dolphins Swimming Team Training Camp at Tobruk Pool on July 20, 2018 in Cairns, Australia. (Photo by Delly Carr/Getty Images)

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