A former Canadian Olympian who trained at Saanich’s Commonwealth Pool applauds additional support for high-performance athletes training at the facility.
“Victoria and Saanich is one of the best communities to be an athlete in,” said Ryan Cochrane, “But it takes funding to support those athletes. If they can’t afford to continue to swim after a certain age, we are potentially barring our next Olympic heroes. So this type of funding is incredibly important and I hope it continues.”
Cochrane, who won an Olympic bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, and a a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Games in London, made these comments after the provincial government announced $100,000 towards the Commonwealth Pool Operating Trust Fund. The federal government, provincial government and the District of Saanich established the fund after Greater Victoria hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games as a legacy of the games.
This funding covers a two-year funding shortfall between now and the end of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games cycle in August 2020, so that athletes and coaches can continue training without disruption.
Lisa Beare, provincial minister of tourism, arts and culture, announced the funding Monday at the facility alongside Cochrane, local MLA and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, and Coun. Susan Brice, representing Saanich.
Beare said the facility is a key training facility for future Olympians and Para-Olympians.
She said the funding will reduce barriers for high-performance aquatic athletes training at the pool. The funding will also support more than 600 club-based athletes who use the pool and other athletic resources.
Brice said the investment will not only help high-performance athletes, but also aspiring athletes who observe them. She also highlighted the larger legacy of the facility and the trust fund.
The pool serves both high-performance athletes and residents, she said.
“The one-of-a-kind partnership formed between all levels of government has allowed sports and recreation to continuously thrive in our community,” she said. “Our unique partnership has allowed both residents and high performance athletes to work side by side and benefit from that synergy.”
Commonwealth Place – built as part of the legacy of the 1994 Commonwealth Games – is used by more than 2,500 residents (including 1,600 swimmers) every day, employing about 200 staff and 150 contractors.