Ryan Cochrane (CAN) prepares to compete during the men's 800-meter freestyle in the Santa Clara international grand prix at the George F. Haines International Swim Center.
Courtesy of: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, October 16. SWIMMING is considered an individual sport. But two-time Olympic and six-time world championship medallist Ryan Cochrane says it takes a full team effort to achieve success.

Cochrane is seeing that first hand at the National Swim Centre/Victoria Academy of Swimming All three Canadian medallists at the FINA World Championships in July were from the Centre.

"We've built a really good team in and out of the pool to achieve those results," said Cochrane, whose two medals in Barcelona (silver in the 1,500-m freestyle and bronze in the 800-m freestyle) made him Canada's most decorated swimmer at the world championships.


"From the swimmers, coaches, the sports staff, the science staff it takes that whole group to keep you in it every year. We were excited about our success this year and we saw what it is possible. It takes a team to support and push you. When times get tough we are there to pick each other up."

Cochrane is amazed how each swimmer's training at the centre is different yet there are many ways to achieve success. In addition, a swimmer's training requirements can differ year-to-year. That consistent monitoring has been a key to his consistently strong results.

"The science side of me being 25 now (as opposed to) when I was 19 is very different," he said. "My training is different, my program outside the pool is different and the mental side is always different. Basically I'm growing as an athlete.

"That's what I love about sport. There is never any level of perfection because there are always things you can improve and that's what you focus on."

This season Cochrane took what he felt was a necessary risk by altering his training approach after a successful 2012 campaign, which included a silver medal in the 1,500-m freestyle at the Olympic Games in London.

"Changing things is something every athlete has to do at some point in their career," Cochrane said. "This year the training was more specific and I think it did pay off. I had some faults in my racing at the world championships. Still I gained a lot of confidence with it this year and found even more enjoyment in my training.

"I'm looking forward to using the same approach."

Following the world championships, Cochrane took a well-earned five-week vacation and travelled through Europe. He recently returned to training to prepare for the 2014 season. The big events on the schedule are the Commonwealth Games July 23 to Aug. 3 in Glasgow, Scotland and the Pan Pacific Championships August 21-25 in Gold Coast, Australia.

"Five weeks was an unusually long break for us," said Cochrane. "By the time I got back I was anxious to return to training. It's important to take enough time off both physically and mentally so you can get through another busy season."

A season in which the top of the podium will be his ultimate goal.

Special thanks to Swimming Canada for contributing this feature article.