‘Once-in-a-lifetime’ Pan Am swim meet leads on to world championships
Cover: Dominique Bouchard (left to right), Rachel Nicol, and Noemie Thomas cheer on teammate Chantal Van Landeghem.
In the late-afternoon one sleep after winning his second Pan Am gold and Ryan Cochrane is on a plane again.
He and the Canadian swim team are travelling to Spain for a training camp in preparation for world championships in Kazan, Russia.
A group of 40 swimmers won 27 medals here in Toronto and Cochrane’s victories were two of eight gold. For a time, they were leading the United States and Brazil in medals. On the first night Canadian women won every event. The crowd was thunderous. It was good fun.
The team reduces to 28 for world championships, the most competitive swim meet besides the Olympics. By comparison worlds medallist Martha McCabe lauded the team feeling at Pan Am. There was at least one Canadian in every A final. Worlds is more about the individual performance, and finals become exceptional circumstances.
“The world championships are the world championships,” said Tom Johnson, who coached Brent Hayden to his London 2012 bronze medal and now coaches Emily Overholt among others. “This (Pan Am) is a regional championship but there’s still a very high level of swimming going on. You’re not getting on the podium with any swim that’s a soft swim,” he said.
Chantal Van Landeghem’s national and Pan Am record from day one is the 10th-best 100m freestyle this year. At least, before Kazan when all the world’s elite will be fully prepared, including the Ryan Cochrane.
The two-time Olympic medallist was ‘swimming through’ TO2015 meaning there’s still more preparative rest to be enjoyed before Russia.
Speaking after his 1500m win, “I think there were parts of it that were really good today and parts of it we can work on, that’s where I can find the 30 seconds I need to drop in two weeks,” commented Cochrane who swam 15:06. “To really go under 14:40 you need that push from your competitors.”
Cochrane is the best distance swimmer in Canadian history. For his emerging teammates, Pan Ams were a chance to be in more races that meant something. North Bay’s Dominique Bouchard was the silver medallist in the 200m backstroke, “This is my first big games so I think it’s going to give me confidence going into the world championships,” she said.
FINA World Aquatic Championships run July 24th to August 9th. The swim meet is August 2nd to 9th.