Though he wasn’t shy about it, Ryan Cochrane also wasn’t ready to declare his swimming career over following the Rio Olympics.
The three-time Olympian is now ready to confirm that he is in fact hanging up the swim goggles for good. Cochrane just returned to Victoria from a three-month tour running his own Swimming Smart training sessions and workshops in about 40 cities from Ontario to B.C.
“It’s absolutely terrifying,” Cochrane said. “[Ending a competitive career] is something all athletes grapple with at some point. I’ve thought about it for a few years, and it’s a little daunting, but for lack of a better term, it’s time to bite the bullet.”
At 28 years old, Cochrane finishes having been named Canadian male swimmer of the year eight times in a row. He won Olympic silver (2012) and bronze (2008), both in the freestyle 1,500-metre. He’s a four-time gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games, in the 1,500m and 400m. He also has a drawer full of FINA World Championship long-course medals in the 1,500m and 800m, not to mention Pan Pacific and national gold medals.
And still, Cochrane has yet to let go of the disappointment from Rio de Janeiro, where he finished sixth overall in his specialty, the 1,500m. Slowly, but surely, he’s coming around.
“It helped going on tour the last few months, it was a good way to ease back into [normal life],” Cochrane said. “Working with kids is super rewarding, we hit a lot of little towns across the country where I’d see 30 to 40 athletes at a time, eager to learn.”
With Swimming Smart, clubs would invite Cochrane to impart his wisdom on their young swimmers. Each camp was three hours with a swimming portion, a dryland portion, and a question and answer period that covered everything from the mental aspect to how to deal with coaches and parents, and making sure you’re breathing right in the water.
“I tried to bring a holistic approach to swimming the kids can use for years, and instil young athletes with what I’ve learned.”
Cochrane is now looking towards a new career. He’s enrolled in a project management diploma program which will compliment his psychology major from the University of Victoria.