Ryan Cochrane (centre) shows of his 400-metre freestyle gold medal on the podium at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Dehli. Cochrane will be putting on a swim clinic at Strathcona Gardens this weekend.

Olympic medalist holds clinic

Ryan Cochrane, the most decorated Canadian swimmer in history and co-captain of Canada’s swim team at the Rio 2016 Olympics, will be to town to put on a clinic at Strathcona Gardens this weekend.

The word “icon” isn’t too strong to use when you talk about Cochrane and his effect on the Canadian Swimming world.

In 2005, a 16-year-old Cochrane swam for Team BC at the Canada Games, winning five medals, including gold in both the 800-metre and 1500-metre freestyle events, and the Canadian swimming community was put on notice that the young Victorian was someone to watch.

He followed that performance by earning a spot on the Canadian team headed for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he set a new Canadian Olympic record in the 400-metres and briefly held the Olympic Record in the 1500-metre freestyle before being watching it beaten by eventual silver medalist and one of the greatest distance swimmers in history, Australian Grant Hackett.

In total, Cochrane has two Olympic medals, claimed six world championships and is Canada’s all-time leading medalist at the World Aquatics Championships. He is essentially the person people think of when they picture Canadian men’s swimming program.

“He’s pretty much been the staple for the swimming nation for the past decade or so,” says head coach of the Campbell River Killer Whales swimming program, Jim Campbell, “so it’s great to have him come up to our little town and talk to the kids and show them a few things in the water in terms of techniques and teach them, even if it’s just for one session. I think everyone will get a lot out of it.”

The Killer Whales are hosting Cochrane’s clinic, and aside from the physical training and skills development of having a swimmer of Cochrane’s stature here in the pool, Campbell thinks there’s another aspect of the tour that may be even more beneficial for those who attend.

“I think just having someone like him, who has been swimming at that level for as long as he has – I mean he was just in his third Olympic final earlier this year – he’ll really be able to share what it takes not only to get to that level but to stay there.”

He will also suit up and race the Campbell River Killer Whales relay teams, which should be fun for all.

The Campbell River clinic is the last stop on Cochrane’s Swimming Smart Cross Canada tour, which saw him make stops in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.