Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games Primer: Swimming

Decorated veteran Ryan Cochrane and intriguing Commonwealth Games rookie Brittany MacLean are two of the Canadians to watch on a green team in Glasgow.

Decorated veteran Cochrane leads green Canadian team

Ryan Cochrane owns a pair of Olympic medals and has reached the podium at the world championships a Canadian-record six times. (Michael Sohn/Associated Press)

Swimming has been a part of every Commonwealth program, going back to the inaugural British Empire Games in 1930 in Hamilton. Canada ranks second in the all-time medal count with 322 total, including 103 gold. That's just ahead of England (303, 77) but well behind leader Australia (557, 237).

Ten of the Aussies' gold medals belong to the great Ian Thorpe, who won four at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur and added a record-tying six more, plus a silver, at the 2002 Games in Manchester, England.

The Thorpedo shares the mark for most gold medals at a single Games with two other swimmers — Australia's Susie O'Neill's (1998 Kuala Lumpur) and Canadian Graham Smith (1978 Edmonton). Canadian rhythmic gymnast Alexandra Orlando equalled the feat in 2006 in Melbourne, Australia.

Glasgow's Tollcross International Swimming Centre will host 44 medal events, including a handful for para-sport athletes that run concurrently with the schedule for able-bodied athletes. The races range from 50 to 1,500 metres for individual men and 50 to 800 metres for individual women. There are also a half-dozen relays.

Canadians to watch

Ryan Cochrane

The Victoria native burst on the scene at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he snapped an 88-year medal drought for Canada in the 1,500-metre freestyle event by taking the bronze. It was just the second trip to the Olympic podium for a Canadian swimmer since 1996. Cochrane went on to sweep the 400 and 1,500 events at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, then added a silver in the 1,500 at the 2012 London Olympics. The 25-year-old also owns a Canadian-record six world championship medals, though none of them are gold. In Glasgow, Cochrane is the prohibitive favourite to repeat as the 1,500-metre champ and is expected to contend for a medal in the 400.

Brittany MacLean

Twenty-six of the 33 Canadian swimmers in Glasgow will be Commonwealth Games rookies as the team looks to build experience for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Perhaps the most intriguing of the newcomers is MacLean, a 20-year-old from Toronto who won the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle gold medals at this year's Canadian trials. Her time of 8:24.91 seconds in the 800 final smashed Brittany Reimer's nine-year-old national record by more than two seconds.

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