TORONTO – Ryan Cochrane (HPC - Victoria/ISC) of Victoria won the gold medal in the men’s 1500-m freestyle on Saturday to cap a great competition for Canadian swimmers at the Pan Am Games.
Cochrane, a two-time Olympic medallist in the event, clocked 15 minutes and 06.40 seconds a Games record. He also won the 400-m freestyle earlier this week. Andrew Gemmell of the U.S. was second in 15:09.92 and Brandonn Almeida of Brazil third at 15:11.70. Kier Maitland of Edmonton was fifth.
“It’s been a really great week,’’ said Cochrane. ‘’The schedule hasn’t been easy and it’s hard to double-back on events, even for myself, but I think everyone’s doing it and everyone’s producing really great swims and I think the crowd is a big part of that.”
Canadian swimmers added a silver medal and two bronze.
In the women’s 4X100-m medley relay, Canada put up a strong fight against the U.S., taking second spot with Dominique Bouchard of North Bay, Ont., Noemie Thomas (UBCDS) of Richmond, B.C., Rachel Nicol of Lethbridge, Alta., and Chantal Van Landeghem of Winnipeg clocking 3:58.51. The U.S. won in 3:56.53.
“It feels really great,’’ said Van Landeghem. ‘’We know the USA will be tough to beat, but to come in and get silver (makes us) really proud of ourselves.”
In the women’s 200-m individual medley, Caitlin Leverenz led the U.S. to a 1-2 finish in 2:10.51, Meaghan Small was second in 2:11.26 and Sydney Pickrem of Halifax took third spot in 2:11.29. Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of Ottawa was fifth.
“I’m not overly happy with the time,’’ said Pickrem. ‘’I was fast this morning but there’s still a lot I need to look at and a lot I need to work on going into worlds. A silver and a bronze here, I’m happy with it. It’s good to win medals for Canada.’’
In the men’s 4X100-m medley relay, Brazil took gold in 3:32.68, the U.S. was second in 3:33.63 and the Canadians kept close in 3:34.40 with Russell Wood and Yuri Kisil (UBCT) of Calgary, Richard Funk of Edmonton and Santo Condorelli.
In the women’s 800-m freestyle, Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke missed the podium by a second placing fourth while Tabitha Baumann of Edmonton was eighth.
Evan White of Oakville, Ont., was just a half-second from the bronze in his fourth place in the men’s 200-m IM while Luke Reilly (UBCDS) of Vancouver was sixth.
Canada ended the competition third in the medal standings with eight gold, 10 silver and nine bronze for 27 overall. The U.S. was first at 12-10-10 and Brazil second at 10-6-10 (rankings based on gold medal count).
“It was a good opportunity to race in the heats, progress to finals and the number of team members that are going away with a medal is really, really great. Eighteen women on the team and every one of them goes home with a medal. On the men’s side we have 15 of 18 that are going home with a medal. That makes for it to be an extremely positive environment, a great story for the team to go away from here. But we’re not getting too carried away with all the medals because the next step is going to the world championships and the next step after that is going to the Rio Olympic Games. What I’m looking at is, where do these swims rank in the world because we’re asking all the team to compare where they’re at at the world level. When you have people like Santo Condorelli, who has equalled the best time in the world this year. Consummate professional Ryan Cochrane, who will be strong when he gets to the world championships. When you have Emily Overholt, even though it was a disqualification in the 400 IM it was the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. When you start to have numbers of swimmers that are posting times that are world-class, you enhance your chances of being successful at the world championships and the Olympic Games. That’s what we have to keep striving for.” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson.
“We talk about not celebrating too often, so there’s a pat on the back having done a good job and we’ve seen that over and over this week`,’’ said Cochrane. ‘’But the fire’s in their belly to be the best in the world and with the younger athletes, it’s there. They want it and want to swim for Canada and it’s great to be a part of that.”