The old man still has it, if 27 can be considered old.
The joke is only funny because Ryan Cochrane, who is nine years removed from swimming in the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships at Saanich Commonwealth Place, has reason to believe he’s as fast now as he ever was.
“In the sets we do to measure yourself I’m doing better than ever and I didn’t think that would happen at 27 years old,” Cochrane said on Tuesday.
The two-time Olympic medalist was named the Canadian male swimmer of the year on Tuesday for the eighth straight year.
Winning the award caps an emotionally and physically draining year in which Cochrane’s coach of 13 years, Randy Bennett, died from cancer in April at the age of 51.
Bennett was the coach of Canada’s top senior national teams at every major international competition since 2009, including the 2012 Olympic Games.
“I think we underestimated the toll the entire year took on us emotionally,” Cochrane said. “We threw ourselves back into work, at the end of the year we noticed just how exhausted we were.”
The Toronto-hosted Pan American Games took place a month prior to the FINA Swimming World Championships in August.
Cochrane won double gold at the Pan Ams in his specialty, the 1,500-metre freestyle, and the 400m. He then took bronze in both events at the World Championships.
“Randy wouldn’t have wanted it any other way than to do everything we can to perform well at the world championships,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane wasn’t the only Ryan earning a national award on Tuesday as Saanich-based Ryan Mallette, who took over as the head coach of Swimming Canada’s Victoria High Performance Centre this year, was named the Swimming Canada Coach of the Year for males.
“I’m honoured, all this credit goes to Randy and the staff. Sometimes my name ends up on an award that goes to 15 people,” Mallette said.
Looking ahead, Cochrane believes he will likely need a world record 14 minutes, 30 seconds in the men’s 1,500m free at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games to be in the mix.
“In the 1,500m there used to be only two or three of us, now there’s five or six vying for that spot,” Cochrane said. “The Olympics brings out the best of everyone.”