He’s certainly not near the level of those legends yet, but Cochrane supplies the Canadian swim team with a much needed go-to guy, someone who can give them the big performance to punctuate a meet. He won golds in both the 800 and 1,500 metres at the Pan Pacs in Irvine, Calif., setting the world’s fastest time in the former and second fastest by about half a second in the latter.
The upcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi will be a good chance for the Victoria swimmer to strut his stuff.
As impressive as his swimming is, it’s his attitude that’s really refreshing. He was a bit overwhelmed when he surprised as a 19-year-old with a bronze medal in the 1,500 metres at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but two years later is starting to embrace a leadership role.
“Now, I’m okay with taking that role,” he said. “It was really thrust on me in Beijing. I wasn’t comfortable with it then because I wasn’t ready to carry the team with me. I was just focused on myself and whether that’s selfish or not is up for debate. But as an athlete, sometimes you have to be selfish.
“I think now I can handle all the pressure that comes along with it. The attitude on the national team now has really changed. We can talk about winning now, we can talk about winning medals. … We hope we can get a confidence on the national team, not to be arrogant, but a confidence that we can actually compete with the rest of the world."
Advice worth heeding: Speaking of Alex Baumann, Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen has done an excellent story with the head of Own The Podium about giving your kids’ a balanced sports experience. It touches on the suicide of Baumann’s older brother Roman.
(The Associated Press photo shows Cochrane after winning the 800 metres at the Pan Pacs)