Saanich-based Team Canada swimming coach Randy Bennett has been admitted to hospital in Victoria due to serious health concerns.
Bennett runs the High Performance Centre out of Saanich Commonwealth Place, where he coaches Olympic medalist Ryan Cochrane and and world championship medalist Hilary Caldwell, among others. He’s also the Victoria head coach and director of Island Swimming.
Bennett has been diagnosed with lung cancer after undergoing a series of tests in recent weeks. He is expected to begin radiation therapy this week.
“It’s been a month of working through the diagnosis, now we’re actively seeking early treatments,” said national team physician Steve Keeler. “It’s come on quite suddenly. People associate lung cancer with bad habits, but that’s not the case at all. There’s a small subset of people who develop lung cancer who aren’t smokers. Randy has been diagnosed with a malignancy that’s going to require in-hospital care for the foreseeable future. It will involve both radiotherapy and chemotherapy.”
Keeler has been acting as Bennett’s primary physician throughout this situation, working alongside a team of specialists.
“I think it’s important people realize I’m not lying in bed curled up in a ball. I am OK. It is what it is. You deal with it. I’m not rolling over. My expectation is that I’m going to get through this,” said Bennett.
He lives in Victoria with teenage sons, Brett and Kyle, and wife Lesley.
“I’m impressed with how he’s managing this,” Keeler said. “I sat with him for two hours Saturday night watching hockey, sharing some stories and lots of smiles. He’s most concerned about family, friends and his athletes. If he responds well to the first round of treatment we anticipate he’ll be back in his normal role in the swimming community as a parent and coach within the next couple of months.”
Bennett, 51, has been head coach of Canada’s top senior national teams at every major international competition since 2009, including the 2012 Olympic Games. He has been head coach at the HPC-Victoria since 2008, where his oversees Cochrane, Caldwell and 2012 Olympian Alec Page.
Bennett said his primary concern is for his athletes as they prepare for Team Canada Trials in April, where they hope to secure spots to represent Canada at this summer’s Pan American Games in Toronto and FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
HPC-Victoria assistant coach Ryan Mallette is overseeing the senior group, which is at a training camp in Arizona.
“One of the reasons that we have great success in Victoria is the outstanding staff that I have there. I have complete faith in everybody to move the program along in my absence,” Bennett said.
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