Cochrane claims Canada’s first world short-course medal in 10 years

DOHA, Qatar - Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane (ISC/HPC - Victoria) ended a decade-long drought for Canada at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), winning bronze in the men’s 1,500-m freestyle Sunday in Doha, Qatar.

The two-time Olympic medallist moved into third position at the 200-m mark and held off Pal Joensen of Faroe Islands the rest of the way to earn bronze in a time of 14:23.35. Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri set a new meet record of 14:16.10 to win gold, while Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia finished in 14:18.79 for the silver.

Cochrane shaved more than five seconds off his lifetime best.

“It’s not exactly where I want to be but at least it's continuously getting better,” Cochrane said. “I know I have a bit more under my belt so hopefully I'll get another chance to do that at some point.”

It was a solid ending to the five-day meet, in which Canada last won a medal back in 2004. Earlier in the evening, Canada had two swimmers in the women’s 200-m breaststroke final. Kierra Smith (LLSC) of Kelowna, B.C., finished fourth in a time of 2:18.30, her second personal best in a day. The 20-year-old had dropped more than three seconds off her previous PB in the morning heats.

"It's good - it will keep me hungry,” Smith said. “It's frustrating to come fourth but I surprised myself coming in here and making a final. I did everything I could but I choked on water on the third to last turn and I am sure that slowed me down. I can work on it and learn from it.”

Toronto’s Martha McCabe also swam a personal best for the second time in a day, going 2:19.17 to capture seventh spot.

“It was a solid last night of performances, with Ryan showing his world-class consistency in securing the bronze in the 1500 freestyle."

On Saturday, Katerine Savard of Pont-Rouge, Que., wrapped up her meet with a 12th-place finish in Saturday’s 100-m butterfly.

“It was an experience and it was real fun. I learned I have to do a lot of work on my turns and underwater in short course,” Savard said. “I am excited to start the long course season.”

The national team now set their sights on a big year of international competition in 2015. That includes the Pan Am Games in Toronto and long-course FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, both contested in the 50-m pool.

“This is so much further than I would be at this stage in any other year so I am very encouraged by that and I think it can only mean good things for (Pan Ams) and the world championships,” Cochrane said. 

Canada will be hosting the next edition of these championships, as Windsor, Ont., is preparing to welcome the world in December 2016, a few months after the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“Canada will take the FINA flag at the conclusion of these world short-course championships,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “Seeing these championships come to Canada at the end of 2016 will be a great opportunity to finish the cycle of the Rio Games on home soil.”

Complete results are available here