December 22nd, 2014

 

To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.

2014 HONOUREE: RYAN COCHRANE

Canadian swimming is currently subject to a very young team, with many of the swimmers emerging onto the international scene yet still a few years away from international success. Ryan Cochrane is the exception on the Canadian national team. Cochrane, at the age of 26, is the team’s veteran swimmer. Although he’s not old, his international experience gives him that role on the team.

Since 2008, Cochrane has been a staple on the Canadian roster medalling at every major long course international competition. In 2008, he took home the bronze in the 1500m freestyle starting a medal run in the distance freestyle that has carried him through to the present day.

The one medal that has eluded Cochrane has been gold. He’s had many second and third place finishes at World Championships and Olympic Games that have in a sense defined his career thus far. Historically, he’s been extremely successful in the ‘off’ year of swimming; the one year every quadrennial that doesn’t feature a World Championships or Olympic Games.

Back in 2010 he did just that, winning two golds and a silver at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships and two golds at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. This year he displayed similar performances, however he changed up the format of his season a decent amount leading up to his two big meets this summer.

In an earlier interview with Swimswam, Cochrane stated that this year was a year to try knew things. He knew that this would be his last Pan Pacs and last Commonwealth Games considering his plan to retire sometime after the 2016 Olympic Games, and the time to try new things was growing shorter.

Traditionally, Cochrane doesn’t swim many 1500 freestyles during the season; he focuses on a lot of 400m freestyles at Grand Prix meets. This past season Cochrane was present in a few 100 and 200 freestyles at Grand Prix’s and had decent success in those events. It seemed as though his focus was the 400 rather than the 1500, his usual focus, and his sprinting seemed to be improving considerably.

At Canadian trials in April, Cochrane won the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle, and 1500 freestyle, with his 400 time being the most impressive of the bunch. He was a 1:49 in the 200 and over 15-minutes in the 1500, but in the 400 he was a 3:47. Considering how far off of his personal bests he was in his other events, the 400 indicated good results for later in the season as he was just three seconds off his personal best time.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games rolled around and Cochrane was rearin’ to go. He ended up coming home with two gold medals, backing up his performances from 2010, winning the 400 and 1500 freestyles.

In the 1500 he was a 14:44.03, about five seconds slower than his personal best. He swam a great race to take home the gold considering that he didn’t have his usual competitors to push him. Mack Horton was the closest to Cochrane sporting a 14:48.76.

The 400 freestyle was a completely different story. Cochrane didn’t push the pace whatsoever at the start and laid back letting some of the other racers take the lead. David McKeon of Australia was out like a rocket and took a huge lead over the field. Cochrane slowly began to creep up to him and with 100 meters to go Cochrane had closed the gap by a sizable margin, turning 1.30 seconds behind him. The last 100 is where Cochrane turned on the jets and rocked a wicked 55.5 last 100 to pass McKeon, come fist, and set a new Canadian record of 3:43.46.

Not only was the time great and a new Canadian record, but it was the first personal best Cochrane had set since the 2012 Olympic Games, and it was the first personal best he had set in the 400 since the 2008 Beijing Games. The most impressive factor about his racing was the closing speed. It was clear that had been something that Cochrane had been working on. With competitors such as Sun Yang in the 1500m freestyle who are notorious for closing quickly, it appeared that Cochrane was taking the year to work on a valuable skill that would help him for the remainder of his career.

He swam in the Pan Pacific Championships about a month later coming home with a gold and a silver. He finished fourth in the 400m freestyle well off the time he swam in Glasgow. In his 800m freestyle Cochrane took gold over Mack Horton and Connor Jaeger with a 7:45.39. The time wasn’t fantastic for Cochrane’s standard, but ended up being the third fastest time of the year in the event. Jaeger eventually got the better of Cochrane in the 1500 where Cochrane settled for second with a time of 14:51.97 to Jaeger’s 14:51.79.

It happened to be the last 100 meters where Jaeger passed Cochrane.

Overall, Cochrane had a fairly good 2014. The most impressive result was undoubtedly the Canadian record in the 400m freestyle. Although his results at Pan Pacs weren’t as good as his results at the Commonwealth Games, Cochrane had to learn to swim two back-to-back championship meets, an occurrence that doesn’t come often in the Canadian’s schedule.

Cochrane ended the season ranked third overall in the world in the 400m freestyle, third overall in the 800m freestyle, and second in the 1500. This season showed that Cochrane is still able to produce best times and improve heading into the 2016 Olympic Games which remain his focus meet.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

In no particular order

  • Evan White – White came onto the world scene this year and had some decent results at  the Commonwealth Games. At the Commonwealth Games he was 12th in the 200 fly, ninth in the 200m IM, and 11th in the 100m fly.
  • Richard Funk – Funk performed successfully in breaststroke events at the NCAA Championships at the beginning of the year and continued his success by making international finals at both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs. Also who can forget CAN RICHARD FUNK? We at Swimswam think he proved that yes, in fact, he can.
  • Yuri Kisil – Kisil broke out this year as one of the fastest men in Canada. Prior to the 2014 Canadian trials, Canada had a huge hole in their sprint freestyles due to the absence of Brent Hayden. Kisil stepped up this season and began to fill those shoes.
  • Luke Reilly – Following Alec Page’s removal from team Canada, Luke Reilly was thrust into the spotlight as Canada’s IMer. He was very quick at trials in the 400m IM and backed up his performances with successful showings at both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs.

 

Source : Swim Swam