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Pan Am newsmaker of the day: Ryan Cochrane

07/18/2015 10:34 EDT | Updated 07/18/2016 05:59 EDT
On the final night of swimming at the Pan Am Games, all eyes were on two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane as he raced in his signature event, the men's 1,500-metre freestyle.

The Canadian delivered in a big way, winning gold and setting a new Pan Am record of 15:06.40 that demolished the old mark by six seconds.

The 26-year-old Victoria native finished the meet with three medals, including a gold in the 400 free and a bronze in the 4x200 free relay with his Canadian teammates.

Despite owning an Olympic silver and bronze in the 1,500, along with six world-championship medals (three each at 1,500 and 800), these were the first Pan Am medals of Cochrane's career. Canada usually sends a development team to the Pan Ams, but with these Games taking place at home, Canada brought the best swimmers in the country.

Before Cochrane's win on Saturday, Canada had never won Pan Am gold in the 1,500 free. Like many swimming events at the Pan Ams, the 1,500 is dominated by the U.S., which has won 24 medals at the distance (14 gold, six silver, four bronze).

Cochrane's focus now turns to the world championships in Kazan, Russia, coming up in a couple of weeks. That will be his first chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and he will face off against his biggest 1,500 rival, Sun Yang of China.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Yang beat Cochrane and set a new world record.

Canadians finish strong

Canada won four medals on the final night of swimming at the Pan Ams to end the Games with 27 (eight gold, 10 silver, nine bronze). At the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Canadian swimmers won only four medals in the pool, plus a gold by open-water swimmer Richard Weinberger.

Santo Conderelli had four medals himself in Toronto, while many Canadians had three, including Cochrane. He won bronze with the 4x200m relay team to go along with the two gold.

Canada finished second in total swimming medals, but third in gold behind the U.S with 32 (12 gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze) and Brazil with 26 (10 gold, six silver, 10 bronze).

Brazilian swimmer Thiago Periera won the 23rd Pan Am medal of his career in the final race of the night, the 4x100m medley relay. He did not swim the race at night, but he swam in the morning heats, so he gets a gold along with the rest of the team.

Periera now holds the record for most Pan Am medals after coming into the Games with 18.

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