Canada’s leading swimmer achieved two gold medal performances during the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, and it is a major taste of what’s to come for the nation’s swimming program.
Ryan Cochrane won gold in the 400-metre freestyle at the University of Toronto’s Pan Am Pool with a Pan Am-record time of 3 minutes, 48:29 seconds.
And within 24 hours after his first Pan Am gold, he captured another gold in the 1500-metre freestyle in another Games-record performance with a time of 15 minutes, 06:40 seconds.
These medals were fully expected from the two-time Olympic medalist who hails from Victoria, B.C.
To date, he has earned a total of 20 medals in international competitions: bronze and silver medals in the Olympics at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, six medals at the FINA World Aquatics Championships (the most ever for a Canadian), four medals at the Commonwealth Games, six medals at the Pan Pacific Championships, and the recent two medals at his first Pan Am Games.
From the recent home soil games, all roads will lead to the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, where Canada hopes its renewed momentum in swimming will see more athletes reach the international podium. Cochrane has been hailed as the saviour of Canadian swimming: He reignited Canada’s swimming program when he won a medal at the Beijing 2008 Games, marking Canada’s first Olympic medal in the pool since the Atlanta 1996 Games.
But there are more international competitions in the year to come ahead of the next Olympic performance.
Shortly after winning the second gold medal in Toronto, Cochrane quickly shifted gears and left for Kazan, Russia to compete in the 2015 FINA World Aquatic Championships – the second most important international swimming event after the Olympics. The swim meet, which doubles as a 2016 Olympic qualifier, began on July 24 and ends on August 9.
— Ryan Cochrane (@cochraneryan) July 27, 2015
We finally made it to Russia… Just in time to see the sunrise at 2:45 am.
— Ryan Cochrane (@cochraneryan) July 28, 2015
Cochrane, 26, is part of the team of elite Canadian athletes supported by atoma, the Official Pharmacy Supplier of the 2015 Pan American Games. All five athletes supported by atoma have won medals in their respective disciplines.
In recent years, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has been making strides with ramping up the medal count of the nation’s summer sport athletes by replicating its model for success from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.
This is compounded by the COC’s announcement this week that it will spearhead a bid for Toronto to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, in light of the successes of the 2015 Pan Am Games and as a way to create legacies that will build up Canada’s repertoire with summer sports.
When asked whether he would like to see Vancouver host the Summer Olympic Games during his lifetime, Cochrane was hesitant but acknowledged the potential benefits that can come from hosting major international, multi-discipline sporting events.
“The cost of an Olympic games is now exorbitant, and it has the potential to leave a negative lasting impression on any country,” he told Vancity Buzz. “That being said, as an athlete, competing at home would be one of the greatest experiences out there. We were also very lucky in Victoria to see the positive results that can come from a games, as the 1994 Commonwealth Games are still influencing many sports in the capital region.”
“I was inspired at a young age to become an Olympian by meeting local sporting icons and learning what it took to gain that success.”
Elite athletic success is earned with the help of corporate sponsors like McKesson. Every year, the best athletes spend tens of thousands on coaches, physical therapy, sports psychologists, equipment, travel to international swim meets and accommodations, and food for their high demanding diets (Cochrane eats 6,000 calories a day). There is also an opportunity cost for becoming an elite level athlete as they have little time to do anything else.
Sponsors like McKesson’s atoma brand fill in the gap for the costs athletes incur during their journey to the Olympics.
The exclusive label of The Medicine Shoppe, IDA and Guardian stores, atoma provides high-quality pharmaceutical products that possess the same active ingredients as other national brands, but with the benefit of significantly lower prices.
“I accepted to be part of this campaign because I would like to hopefully inspire Canadians, in my own way, to be more active and enjoy the sports they love,” said Cochrane.
Ryan Cochrane – 400 metre men’s freestyle final
Ryan Cochrane – 1500 metre men’s freestyle final
— Ryan Cochrane (@cochraneryan) July 15, 2015
It was a very humbling night to be able to win at home & I’m excited to have yet another chance to go for that podium pic.twitter.com/RceTverEkl
— Ryan Cochrane (@cochraneryan) July 18, 2015
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) July 19, 2015
— McKesson Canada (@McKesson_Ca) July 18, 2015
Giving us the stare down. pic.twitter.com/DCEsexB48C
— Ryan Cochrane (@cochraneryan) July 11, 2015
— Ryan Cochrane (@cochraneryan) July 11, 2015
Vancity Buzz’s coverage of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games is presented by McKesson Canada.