Ryan Cochrane celebrates bronze on the podium of the 1

Ryan Cochrane celebrates bronze on the podium of the 1

Saanich swimmers dedicate medals to coach at worlds, nationals

Saanich's Danica Ludlow and Ryan Cochrane dedicate medals to late coach Randy Bennett; Molly Gowans, 15, wins two medals at nationals

Saanich’s Ryan Cochrane ended the FINA World Championships with his second bronze medal of the meet, this one in his specialty, the 1,500-metre men’s freestyle.

Cochrane had earned silver at the last three world championships and 2012 Olympics.

Cochrane and his Saanich Commonwealth Place teammates helped  Canada win a variety of medals at the FINA swimming worlds from Aug. 1 to 9 in Kazan, Russia.

Cochrane raced to third in the 1,500m with a time of 14:51.08, behind Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri (14:39.67) and Connor Jaeger of the U.S.A. (14:41.20). Defending world and Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang of China, the only person to beat Cochrane in the 1,500m at the 2012 London Olympics, was a surprise non-starter.

Combined with his 400-m bronze from earlier in the meet, Cochrane’s all-time World Championships medal total is now eight, best in Canadian history. It was also the fourth straight medal in the world 1,500m (with three silvers) for the 26-year-old graduate of Claremont secondary and the University of Victoria. That feat has previously been accomplished only by Australian legend Grant Hackett.

“I’m really happy to get my fourth medal in a row. It’s obviously not the colour I wanted and it was a bit of an open field,” Cochrane said in a Swimming Canada release. “My times from all year have gotten better in my training. It didn’t quite translate here but the ultimate goal is the Olympics. I’ve worked 10 years for that and I can take the positives. It’s great to get on the podium again, it’s not what I wanted, but it kind of incites some extra fire within for the Olympic year.”

Cochrane’s effort capped a long year of highs and lows, including the death of his longtime coach Randy Bennett in April and a double gold medal performance at last month’s Pan Am Games in Toronto.

“I just think with our Pan Ams and then into world championships it was just a long go. I don’t want to make excuses, I think Paltrinieri is the one to beat for next year and it’s going to be a very hard-fought battle for that medal. But I really think I can expect best times next year with a simpler schedule,” Cochrane said.

While Canada’s senior national team athletes were in Kazan, 18-year-old Claremont graduate Danica Ludlow of Island Swimming narrowly bested fellow Saanich youngster Molly Gowans in the senior women’s 400m freestyle at the Canadian Swimming Championships on Saturday (Aug. 8). Ludlow won with a time of 4:14.86 seconds, passing 15-year-old Gowans of Saanich’s Pacific Swim Club in the final 100 metres. Gowans earned silver in 4:15.15.

Gowans (Inset photo) took two medals in total, as she earlier won silver in the 1,500m women’s freestyle. Saanich’s Keegan Zanatta (UBC Dolphins) clocked 3:54.52 to win men’s 400m freestyle.

“I know that Hilary (Caldwell) and Ryan (Cochrane) and Jeremy (Bagshaw) are over in Kazan swimming for him right now (at the world championships),” said Ludlow. “I saw Hilary post on Facebook that she hoped that he was watching. I definitely wanted the same thing tonight. Hopefully, he was. He’s a big part of the reason I’m still swimming today. It’s pretty big for me.”

reporter@saanichnews.com