Among the hardest things in international sport is to get up for a post-Olympic year.
But Ryan Cochrane of Victoria is faring just fine, thank you very much.
Cochrane, who captured the silver medal in the men’s 1,500-metre freestyle at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, won the 400-metre freestyle Friday night at the U.S. Grand Prix meet in Orlando, Florida.
Cochrane touched in three minutes, 51.62 seconds, ahead of second- and third-place Americans Michael Klueh of the U.S (3:53.71) and Conor Dwyer (3:54.70).
The Victoria Academy of Swimming’s reputation as a men’s freestyle Mecca was evident with Cochrane’s fellow-VAS swimmers Eric Hedlin fifth and London Olympian Alec Page seventh.
“I’m happy with how things are working out, especially in a post-Olympic year,” said Cochrane, in a statement.
Victoria Academy head coach Randy Bennett was pleased with the early-season form.
“Ryan had a solid swim. He was poised, swam in control, and showed a reflection of what he has been working on in practice,” said Bennett, from Orlando.
“It was a very encouraging in-season result,” added Bennett, of his two-time Olympic medallist Cochrane.
The versatile Page, the emerging 18-year-old University of Victoria freshman from Cortes Island, later captured bronze in the men’s 200-metre butterfly.
“It was a good podium finish at a senior level meet,” said coach Bennett.
“Alec is starting to understand swimming with the senior men.”
The big night for Bennett’s Victoria academy performers continued with London Olympian Alexa Komarnycky placing second in the women’s 400-metre freestyle in 4:11.49, behind Becca Mann of the U.S (4:10.66).
“I think I’m finally learning how to kick off the wall properly,” Komarnycky said in a statement.
“We did a lot of turn work in training camp and it has really helped me.”
Yet another Victoria academy swimmer, Hilary Caldwell, won bronze in the women’s 100-metre backstroke in 1:02.19, touching a split second after silver-medallist Olivia Smoliga of the U.S.
“Hilary Caldwell is getting reliable in the 100 backstroke,” said Bennett.
“It was a promising result, which should set up a good 200 backstroke [today].”
The winner of the 100-metre backstroke race was Missy Franklin, the American from Colorado, of Nova Scotia parents, who became a cause celebre with her dominating presence in the 2012 London Olympics.
Seven of Bennett’s Victoria academy athletes competed for Canada at the London Summer Games.
They will be on display in their home pool at Saanich Commonwealth Place from April 3-6, along with the rest of the best in Canada, during the Canadian trials for the 2013 FINA world aquatics championships July 28 to Aug. 4 in Barcelona, Spain.
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