Ryan Cochrane was born in Victoria, BC, Canada on October 29, 1988. Cochrane was first exposed to the sport of swimming through Red Cross swimming lessons. He got his first taste of competitive swimming when he took part in an Island Swimming summer camp. It was not long before Cochrane moved up the ranks of the club and joined forces with Head Coach Randy Bennett.Cochrane and Bennett made a formidable pair.
Cochrane’s first taste of real success came at the Canada Games in 2005 where he won gold in the 800 and 1500 freestyle along with medals in three more events. His first success on the international stage came just one year later.
At the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships, in his hometown of Victoria, Cochrane picked up a bronze in the 800 freestyle and finished fourth in the 1500 freestyle. That same year he also competed at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia where he finished fifth in the 1500 freestyle and eighth in the 400 freestyle.
The next year Cochrane competed at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne. He finished seventh in the 800 freestyle, 15th in the 1500 freestyle and 19th in the 400 freestyle.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics Cochrane improved his lifetime best of 14:59.02 to a 14:40.84 in the prelims. He was not able match his prelims time in the finals, but his time of 14:42.69 earned him a bronze medal in the men’s 1500 freestyle.
Cochrane’s prelim time was a new Olympic record, a record that was beaten two heats later by defending Olympic champion Australian Grant Hackett.
Cochrane led the final of the event at the 1000 meter mark. Eventual gold medalist Ous Mellouli of Tunisia took the lead at the 1100 meter mark. The final 100 meters was an exciting race between Mellouli and Hackett, fighting for the honour of being crowned Olympic champion.
The race for the bronze was also fantastic. Cochrane was able to beat Russian Yuri Prilukov by 52 one-hundredths of a second. Since the 2008 Olympics Cochrane has collected a piece of hardware at every major international competition.
Going into the 2012 Olympics in London Sun Yang of China was the overwhelming favorite. Sun had broken the World Record in the 1500 freestyle at the 2011 World Championships where Cochrane finished second hitting the wall 10 seconds after Sun.
The race played out in the exact same way it did a year earlier in Shanghai. Sun dominated the event winning in a time of 14:31.02 while Cochrane posted a lifetime best and Canadian record time of 14:39.63 to grab the silver.
Although Sun won the race with ease Cochrane was able finish 68 one-hundredths ahead of 2008 Olympic champion Tunisian Mellouli.
In the seven years since Cochrane won his Olympic bronze he has collected a combined seven gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships and Commonwealth Games. He has yet to be able to find his way to the top of the podium at either the World Championships or the Olympic Games.
In April of 2015 Cochrane’s longtime coach Randy Bennett tragically passed away. In his statement released to the media Cochrane shared how much Bennett meant to him.
“We’ve lost a mentor, a visionary, and a friend,” said Cochrane.
“Randy’s ability to fight for what was right is a tenet we must all continue to uphold. He expected nothing except the absolute best from each and every person he touched.
Coaching was his passion and his life, and I know he has had a profound impact on my life both in and out of sport. I would not be the athlete or person I am today without him.
The values and imagination Randy instilled in all of his athletes will live on and that’s a testament to his love of swimming.”
Leading into the 2015 World Championships Cochrane is now being coached by Ryan Mallet at the High Performance Centre-Victoria.
2015 World Championships
Cochrane competed for Canada at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan. He swam his typical mid-to-distance races including the 400-meter free, 800-meter free and the 1500-meter free. In the 400-meter distance, Cochrane was up against favorite, Sun Yang, and rising star, James Guy. He took out the championship final strong, and held a consistent pace throughout the race, battling the USA’s Connor Jaeger from the get-go. Turning into the last 50 meters, Cochrane out-split Jaeger to touch him out by .22 seconds for the bronze medal.
In his next event the 800 free, Cochrane had a solid preliminary heat swim. Cochrane sat in third place until the last heat of the event, in which seven swimmers in the heat swam a faster time, pushing Cochrane to 10th in the event. After winning a medal in the event in the past three-straight World Championships, Cochrane’s medal-winning streak in the 800 free had ended.
After suffering such a letdown, Cochrane had just a few days to turn it around for his last event, the 1500-meter free. Even though the 800-meter distance has historically been his best event, the 800 free is not an Olympic event for men. After Sun Yang pulled out of the race, the event opened up for possibility just that much more. With nothing to lose, Cochrane had a great swim, where he placed 3rd, winning a bronze medal in the process. Going into Rio the 1500-meter free could likely be Cochrane’s best chance for a medal.
2016 Rio Olympic Games
In his third Olympic Games, Cochrane was back in the 1,500 meter freestyle lineup. This time, however, he was unable to come away with a medal. In the final he moved up a position to finish 6th in 14:49.61. He also swam in the 400 meter freestyle finishing 11th in 3:45.83.