Saanich Olympian Ryan Cochrane will compete in his home pool at Swimming Canada’s 2011 World Trials and National Pool championships this week. Locals can see Cochrane in today’s 400 metre free

Saanich Olympian Ryan Cochrane will compete in his home pool at Swimming Canada’s 2011 World Trials and National Pool championships this week. Locals can see Cochrane in today’s 400 metre free

Canada’s swimmers dive into Saanich

National swimming championships at Commonwealth Place

Canada’s best are in the water at Saanich Commonwealth Place today.

The 2011 World Trials and National Pool championships act as the qualifier for the Swimming Canada team that will compete in Shanghai at this summer’s FINA World Championships.

The trials run until Saturday, with preliminaries each day at 10 a.m. and finals each night at 6 p.m.

Pierre Lafontaine, CEO and national coach for Swimming Canada, issued a web statement about the importance of competing at the world championships.

“In Beijing, 73 per cent of the finalists were on the podium at the previous year’s world Championships in Melbourne. The 2011 World Championships is key to building up for the Olympics next year.”

Director of Island Swimming Randy Bennett expects all nine of his swimmers to perform: Stefan Hirniak, Julia Wilkinson, Blake Worsley, Mackenzie Downing, Stephanie Horner, Hillary Caldwell, Alexandra Komarnycky, Sean Penhale, and Claremont secondary graduate Ryan Cochrane.

“We had a significant training trip in Australia for January and February, plus a final preparation and camp in Tuscon last week. I feel they’re ready.”

As long as they swim to the level of their previous performance, all nine would make the world championships, Bennett said.

It’s a little different for Cochrane, however. The local fan favourite and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist qualified for his spot on the elite team when he won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Even so, there is plenty of room to improve and nationals is the place to do it, Cochrane said.

“There’s always pressure when there’s nationals at home.”

Cochrane hopes to break 14 minutes, 50 seconds in the 1,500 metre freestyle.

“I’m hoping to get a good lane at the worlds. I haven’t been near my (bronze medal) time (3:44) in the 400 metre since the Olympics.”

Cochrane, a UVic student, is coming off winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport male swimmer of the year award for winning CIS golds in the men’s 1,500m, 400m and 200m freestyle races.

“The CIS was a different environment. Being on a team reminded me why I was swimming. Just to compete was fun. Sometimes you forget, you’re training to be your best for 15 years.”

Spectators at Commonwealth Place this week are free to attend the morning sessions. Admission for evenings is $10. Kids 12 and under are free.

World Trials swim schedule at Saanich Commonwealth Place

Daily times:Preliminaries 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.Finals 6 – 8 p.m.

Wednesday, March 30200m Butterfly400m Freestyle200m Breaststroke50m Backstroke800m Freestyle (men only)4x100m Freestyle Relay

Thursday, March 31100m Freestyle400m Individual Medley50m Butterfly100m Breaststroke1500m Freestyle (women only)4x200m Free Relay

Friday, April 1200m Freestyle50m Breaststroke100m Backstroke100m Butterfly

Saturday, April 2200m Backstroke50m Freestyle200m Individual Medley800m Freestyle (women only)1500m Freestyle (men only)4x100m Medley Relay