Kelton Graham was appointed the Head Coach for Club Wolverine’s 18 and under age group programs in September 2011. Kelton comes to this role with over 13 years of coaching experience in Michigan. Kelton has coached a number of teams in the Detroit and Ann Arbor area. Most recently Kelton coached the Ypsilanti Otters before coming to Club Wolverine in 2007. He served as the assistant coach of CW since 2009. Kelton has also coached both Lincoln and Huron High Schools. His team at Huron High school won the Michigan High School Championship in 2008.
In the spring of 2008, the Detroit Free Press described Kelton Graham as “..a charismatic figure who is easygoing and just flat-out likable.” The Club Wolverine swimmers Kelton coaches would more than agree. Kelton is a beloved coach by swimmers at all levels of ability. He is known for making workouts fun. Kelton is well respected by his fellow coaches in the club and within the high school and college swimming communities.
Kelton grew up in Detroit and started swimming as a 12-year-old without any competitive goals. He just wanted to float. But by the time Kelton finished high school, he was a top swimmer, (set a record in the breaststroke), and finished sixth at the 1993 high school state meet. Kelton went on to swim for men’s coach Peter Linn at EMU where he placed third in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship meet. At that time, Kelton was the only African-American swimmer to place at that level in the MAC.
Kelton has been coaching young swimmers for the past 10 years. He started coaching the Aquademics, a team of minority kids in Ann Arbor, then moved on to the Ypsi Otters where he was the head coach. Kelton left the Otters in 2006 to join the CW staff, the same year he was appointed the boys high school coach at Ann Arbor Huron High School. In his second year as the Huron boys swim coach, Kelton led the team to their first victory over cross-town rival Pioneer in 19 years. Kelton’s boys team went on to win the high school state championship meet in 2008, also a first for the team in 19 years. Also, in 2008, Kelton was named the Michigan High School Athletic Association Coach of the Year for these accomplishments. In addition to coaching for CW, Kelton also works in the summer at University of Michigan women’s swim coach Jim Richardson’s Wolverine Swim Camps.
High standards and ambition have been a part of Kelton’s work in swimming as both an athlete and coach. Kelton says he tries to bring the concept of looking at the “truth” each of his practices. His swimmers know what that means. “It’s my stop watch. Once truth comes out of my pocket, the kids know it’s going to be a hard workout,” he said.
The high point of coaching for Kelton is helping swimmers master goals they didn’t think were possible. Kelton enjoys working on technique with swimmers to improve strokes and learning about new training methods to keep workouts fresh. When training gets tough during the middle of the season as championship meets approach and swimmers get a bit grumpy, Kelton uses humor, new ideas for workouts and fresh concepts to keep spirits up. Last summer he reminded senior group swimmers that his 107-year-old grandmother was possibly faster on a kick set than they were!
"My daughter finally found a coach who motivates and encourages her, that is Kelton" said one CW parent. "He is nurturing--genuinely cares about HER, and not just her times or performance, and with him she has again become motivated. I hear that from many parents whose kids work with him. He really has a gift."
Kelton is married to Anna Singleton Graham. He has two children a daughter, Khya Singleton, and a son, Kelton Isaiah. Kelton also has two cats. When Kelton isn’t at the pool, you might find him grilling. Kelton also loves Oreo Blizzards at Dairy Queen, “..but I need to be careful with those," he says.
Click Here to hear a podcast of Kelton talking about swimming.