Apr29

Canadian swimming coach Randy Bennett dies after brief battle with cancer

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Canadian swimming coach Randy Bennett dies after brief battle with cancer

The Canadian swimming community has lost one of its finest coaches. Ryan Cochrane has lost his friend.

Randy Bennett, the man who coached Cochrane to a pair of Olympic medals, died Tuesday after a brief battle with cancer. Swimming Canada announced Bennett’s death saying the 51-year-old coach had been diagnosed with metastatic malignant melanoma in early February. He had undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Victoria, where he lived and coached, and was using a walker to help him get around.

“We’ve lost a mentor, a visionary, and a friend,” Cochrane said in a statement. “Randy’s ability to fight for what was right is a tenet we must all continue to uphold. He expected nothing except the absolute best from each and every person he touched.”

Cochrane added that Bennett had “a profound impact on my life both in and out of sport. I would not be the athlete or person I am today without him. The values and imagination Randy instilled in all of his athletes will live on and that’s a testament to his love of swimming.”

Needing rest from his treatments, Bennett did not attend the recent Pan-American Games’ swim trials in preparation for the Games being held this summer in Toronto and Southern Ontario.

Bennett had been the head coach of Canada’s top senior national team from 2009 to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It was there that Bennett and Cochrane celebrated a silver medal-winning performance in the 1,500 metres final. Cochrane had won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“He was a tremendous example of a dedicated coach,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “He loved our sport, he cherished his athletes and he proudly represented his family and Canada. He was a man of remarkable courage and strength of character. His achievements are too numerous to name but what stands out most is that he inspired others to achieve and they did. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

Bennett had been the head coach of Canada’s top senior national team from 2009 to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It was there that Bennett and Cochrane celebrated a silver medal-winning performance in the 1,500 metres final. Cochrane had won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In one of his last interviews, Bennett talked about his illness and stressed that he didn’t want his medical condition to overshadow how the athletes were preparing for the Pan-Ams, as well as the 2015 FINA world championships in Kazan, Russia.

“I think it’s important people realize I’m not lying in bed curled up in a ball. I am okay. It is what it is.,” Bennett said in an interview with Swim Canada. “I’m not rolling over. My expectation is that I’m going to get through this.”

Bennett had been named Swimming Canada coach of the year five times. He worked at the Island Swimming Club, where he groomed several Olympians, including Alec Page, Julia Wilkinson and 2013 world championship medalist Hilary Caldwell.

He is survived by his wife and their two sons.