07/28/2012 04:00 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Ryan Cochrane seeks sanctuary, sustenance between first and last Olympic races

LONDON - Canadian swimmer Ryan Cochrane intends to manage the days between his first and last races at the Summer Games by moving out of the athletes village and in with a nutritionist.

The 23-year-old from Victoria is a Canadian medal hopeful in Saturday's 400-metre freestyle and a medal contender in the 1,500 freestyle a full week later.

"I plan on probably leaving the village and going to live in just an apartment with my nutritionist," Cochrane said. "That way I can really focus, really have personal space and get through the full eight days with the best mindset and as the best athlete I can be."

Cochrane won Canada's lone swimming medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing with a bronze in the 1,500. He's won silver in that distance at the last two world championships, so he's considered a top medal prospect for Canada in London.

Cochrane's metabolism sheds calories at great rate because of the training required to peak for the Olympic Games in gruelling distances. A lanky six foot three and 181 pounds, he consumes between 6,000 and 8,000 calories per day.

Food is crucial in recovering from training. Not enough and Cochrane's immune system weakens and he can become sick.

Nutritionist Susan Boegman oversaw the Canadian swim team's diet during a two-week camp in Italy and is keeping a close eye on Cochrane in London.

"I'm a very different athlete than I was four years ago," he said. "Four years ago I was trying so hard to get down to race weight and this time, it seems like I'm eating what I would eat in a really hard training block, but I seem to be just holding weight, which is ideal.

"I'm getting as much nutrition as I can. It's been really helpful having my nutritionist Susan here because it would be hard to do without her. Don't tell my mom, but she's probably the best cook I know."

Cochrane also won silver in the 800 metres at last year's world championships in Shanghai, China, but it's not on the Olympic swim program in London. That creates a stretch of time Cochrane has to navigate.

He still intends to circulate at the Olympic pool between races, striking a balance between cheering on his teammates and also getting some peace and quiet.

"If I want to come back in the village and not feeling amped up enough about the whole experience, it's easy to do," Cochrane explains. "I want to make sure I enjoy the swimming Olympic experience and I'm so excited for my teammates. I think that's going to get me really excited by Day 8 seeing how well they do.

"But I also think it can take a lot out of you if you're fully involved for the 16 sessions. I'll have to manage it around my training times and making sure I don't get too overwhelmed with the experience at the expense of my racing."