BARCELONA – Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane will look to make it three straight FINA World Championships medals in the men’s 800-metre freestyle Wednesday in Barcelona.
The 24-year-old swam his heat in 7:49.58 Tuesday, putting him in third position heading into Wednesday’s final. American Connor Jaeger (7:49.28) and China’s Sun Yang (7:49.37) were the only swimmers faster.
“It’s exciting to have a smooth morning swim and it sets me up for tomorrow,” said Cochrane, who just missed a medal in the 400-m Sunday.
“It was pretty hard coming back from the 400. Fourth place by two tenths of a second, it stings a bit but the 800 and the 1,500 are definitely my more comfortable events,” said Cochrane, who has medalled in both distance events at the last two world championships.
“Ryan swam a very controlled 800 free and got himself an appropriate lane in the middle of the pool,” said Randy Bennett, head coach of the national team and Cochrane’s coach at the Victoria Academy of Swimming. “He set himself up for a great final.”
Barbara Jardin was the other Canadian to advance through the heats Tuesday. The 21-year-old from Montreal qualified 16th for semifinals in women’s 200-metre freestyle with a time of 1:58.93. She then improved her standing in the evening, stopping the clock in 1:58.66 for a 14th-place finish.
“I’m happy about improving my time in finals, also I moved up two spots so I’m definitely happy about that,” Jardin said. “I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve been going 2:01 since after Trials (in April). We put a lot of training into it and I was trying to find a balance between my schooling and my swimming, so I’m just really happy with that time.”
Sam Cheverton of Pointe-Claire also swam the 200-m free, coming 21st in 1:59.43.
Both swimmers are looking ahead to Thursday’s 4×200-m free relay, especially after Cheverton and her 4×100-m free teammates broke the Canadian record twice in a day Sunday.
“Them improving by a lot as compared to last year is definitely inspiring,” Jardin said. “All the girls are really pumped for the relay so we’ll see how it goes.”
The two other Canadians in action Tuesday had near misses in the morning despite swimming personal bests. Richard Funk of Edmonton started Canada’s day off with a best time in the men’s 50-m freestyle. Funk stopped the clock in 27.78 but missed the semifinal by 0.2 seconds, finishing tied for 22nd. Zack Chetrat of Oakville, Ont., also had a personal best, touching the wall in 1:57.92 in the men’s 200-m butterfly.
“The two best times from the two boys was very encouraging in the heats,” Bennett said. “They moved up the rankings and it’s a good step for both those boys.”
Chetrat was pleased with his performance despite coming 18th, just two spots out of the semifinals.
“I was thrilled with that race. I missed the semifinal by two spots but it was my first time under 1:58, which has been my goal all season,” Chetrat said.
Chetrat, 22, and Funk, 20, are both making their world championships debuts this year after participating in the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.
“Overall it’s been a great learning experience the whole summer, coming from (Kazan) to here. What I felt most of all at this meet was, I wasn’t scared of the big guys,” Chetrat said. “Watching them race in the finals the other day I was thinking ‘They’re just getting up and doing it the same as anybody else.’ That really gave me a good confidence to swim this race.”
Canada has sent a 34-member team (17 men, 17 women) to the world championships. Action in the pool continues through Sunday at Palau Sant Jordi. Swimming Canada’s broadcast partner Sportsnet will be airing a one-hour highlight show all eight days of the championships.