Skyline’s Star Coach Kit Bennett, Wizard of the Water


Zachary Czartoski

A 7-time national champion team needs a strong head coach. Luckily, Skyline Crew has one: Kit Bennett. 

Kit Bennett is from Streatham, South London and came to the United States in 2006. Bennett originally began rowing at Dulwich College and was “very lucky he was able to row because his family was under [received] financial aid.” Bennett seeks to extend these same opportunities back to his own athletes. The team raises around 10 thousand dollars a year for uniforms, dues, and race fees for athletes in need.

Kit Bennett began coaching at the age of 15 as a swim           

and water polo coach after a knee injury in rugby. Post college, 

he ran the college’s rowing program for three years while being an athlete himself. Starting the Skyline rowing program in 2009, he describes his own coaching style as “one that is focused on process and building people versus results.”

What was it like running the team during Covid-19?

Last fall, Skyline was able to use only single-person boats to keep their athletes on the water; multi-person boats were too risky, with Covid-19. Come winter, Bennett used many strategies to create a proper winter training season such as workout leaderboards and erging over zoom calls, making Skyline the only rowing team in Ann Arbor to have at-home zoom workouts during quarantine. 

Skyline athletes described this Winter season in 2020 as “a challenge being isolated. But it was worth it in the long run because it made me much faster,” says Liam Black, a sophomore on the team. This enabled the Skyline team to row full team boats by spring break of 2021 and the men’s team was able to place 1st at the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championships.  

His Coaching style

Bennett describes his own coaching style as“focused on developing students as people. His athletes see it as “very direct” and “fair.” Independence is another staple of Bennett’s coaching; one sophomore commented that “Kit’s coaching style is great because it teaches kids to put in the work for a positive outcome. Kit helps set kids up for colleges they would want to pursue by getting them the resources they need.” The strong results at events like Kensington, Head of the North, and Head of the Gallup, proves the solidarity of his coaching style.

Fall Season

Fall 2021 led to race adaptations and hosting teams like Pioneer, Northville, Huron, and St. Mary’s at Skyline’s home territory. Bennett created a 2,400-meter course as well as docking space for 6 teams. Finishing the season with Head of the North, both the men’s and women’s team placed first. 

Spring and Future Plans

Given the success of Head of the Gallup, Bennett plans to host a similar race annually called the “Mitten racing series.” Bennett states that his goal is to provide a “championship level racecourse, seven to eight lanes wide, fully buoyed every ten meters with the buoys alternating colors every 250 meters.” 

The plans for the race course involve a “timing system” involving “traffic light[s]”; these plans are intended to “create a much better experience for the athletes.” Bennett has hopes to bring in around eight to ten teams from Michigan and even the rest of the Midwest to race a high-quality championship course. “Funding for the course was in part supported by pandemic stimulus money. The race course will be fulfilling the goals of the stimulus support by bringing in people to local restaurants and hotels,” says Bennett.