Ryan Cochrane Remembers His Coach

reprinted with permission from Ryan Cochrane's Facebook page

Bennett and Cochrane - bronze medal Beijing 2008

This week, my longtime coach Randy lost his battle with Cancer. We have all lost a mentor, a visionary, and a friend. I was fortunate enough to have known Randy for 13 years and it seems like a lifetime ago that he came to our club ready for a new adventure. After coaching quite successfully at the university level, he was faced with a new role in Victoria where many of us were only beginning our journeys into the world of sport. I often talk quite frankly about our relationship over the years; the highs of accomplishing our lifelong goals and the lows of arguing over now irrelevant details. That being said, we both loved and lived for the sport of swimming.

At the beginning of each season , starting with his first year in Victoria, Randy and I would sit down together and talk about our goals for the season ahead. Each and every one of our conversations would inevitably end with him giving me my goals and my disbelief in such a monumental task. I learned over time that his imagination and belief in his athletes was a palpable commodity, one that helped us to break through barriers again and again. Within these journeys, he expected nothing less than the absolute best from each and every person he touched. This imagination and expectation of perfection encouraged a multitude of athletes to accomplish their goals both in and out of the pool.

Coaching was Randy’s passion and his life. He sacrificed an incredible amount to support his athletes over his 30 year career. His wife Lesley and boys, Kyle and Brett, knew the enthusiasm Randy held towards the sport, and supported him unwaveringly towards his goals. This was even more apparent when I was able to reach the Olympic podium in Beijing, as it took Randy and that family support to get there. For over 200 days of the year we traveled for training and competitions, time dedicated to sporting excellence. Everyone gave up something on the road to the Olympics, and the Bennett’s never once questioned that it was the right thing to do. If I could speak for every athlete coached by Randy, I’d thank the Bennett’s for allowing us to share in his enthusiasm and his passion.

Many of the lessons I’ve learned from Randy were gathered through times of adversity. He never made things easy, but everything was purposeful in creating an environment where everyone could thrive. The trust we developed came from his commitment and devotion to making us better; it didn’t take long to realize that, and while sometimes being frustrating, his decisions were always for a cause. An unbelievable amount of his time also went into changing the dynamics of sport in our country. He was convinced that we could be the best in the world but to do so, it would take a mindful change in our culture. It is a testament to his determination that he did his best to see this through.

Words cannot properly describe how any of us feel at this point. We are lost without our leader, saddened without our friend, yet hopeful that through his passionate work, his legacy will live on indefinitely. I would not be the athlete or person I am today without him and I take comfort in knowing that Randy loved his time as a coach. He really reveled in being better every day, and to honour our friend, we must continue those ideals for years to come.