Saanich to lose national training centre for swimming after 2020 Tokyo Olympics

WatchOne of Canada's most successful swimmers, Victoria's own Ryan Cochrane, attributes his success to the national training program at Saanich's Commonwealth Pool. But after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Swimming Canada is phasing out that facility. As Mary Griffin reports, the news comes as a shock to the entire community.

B.C. swimmers with dreams of making Canada’s national team won’t be able to train at Saanich’s Commonwealth Pool much longer.

Swimming Canada is closing this national training centre after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

For one of Canada’s most successful swimmers, Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane, the news is not good.

“I find the news pretty disappointing overall. We’ve had such a strong history of swimming excellence in the city. Right up until early 2000. To see that kind of priority change is always difficult,” Cochrane said.

As a two time Olympic medalist, Cochrane has Commonwealth Pool to thank for his swimming career.

“Without the support, it would have been very difficult for me to reach that level. I had a great coach, and a great club in island swimming that really supported me,” Cochrane said.

Swimming Canada is streamlining its operations after 2020, moving to two centres, in Vancouver and Toronto.  Communications Manager Nathan White said it was a tough decision.

“Obviously closing a centre is not something that was taken lightly. Looking at having two centres in B.C., the decision was made just to have one in the west for our Olympic program, and one in the east.”

The news comes as a double-shock for Saanich mayor Fred Hayne.

“We basically received the news this morning. We’re still digesting it. We’re not happy at this. But we’ll do all we can to make our highest performing athletes get all the support they need,” Hayne said.

Last year, Rowing Canada announced it would move its national training centre from Saanich’s Elk Lake to the Cowichan Valley. But the mayor is hopeful rowing is not gone forever.

“Certainly we wish the new location well, but certainly we’re equipped and ready to receive them back if that should be the decision,” Haynes said.

Commonwealth Pool will continue as a busy centre, but not a high-performance swimming centre after 2020.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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