In 2003, Randy and Lesley brought their two young boys to Victoria, where he was Head Coach/Director of Swimming for Island Swimming for the next 13 years. Within a few years, Randy moved his club to the top of the national rankings. During that time, he successfully lobbied national sport funding partners and Swimming Canada to establish a recognized national training centre in Victoria. Today, the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre in Victoria is recognized as a premier swim program both nationally and internationally. Randy was a long-term visionary of the sport. His model of world-class sport science and medicine support continues to be the model used across all of Swimming Canada’s programs.
In 2008, Randy’s athlete Ryan Cochrane won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, and this success cemented Randy’s position as National Team Head Coach for the next seven years, until his untimely death in 2015 at just 51 years of age. During this time, his program accounted for seven of 11 medals across the 2012 London Olympics, two Commonwealth Games and three World Championships. Under his mentorship, there was a dramatic improvement in how athletes performed and conducted themselves as professionals. Randy put “an unbelievable amount of time, energy and work into making us better athletes as well as better people,” Ryan says, “and he was successful at supporting decades worth of athletes to this goal.”
Among Randy’s many awards are eight Petro Canada Coaching Excellence Awards, six times Swim BC Coach of the Year, Swimming Canada Coach of the Year for five consecutive years 2008 – 2012, and BC Swim Coaches Association National, Open Water and International Coach of the Year, all in 2013. He received the Governor General’s Award in 2012.
Although his increasing success over the years brought many attractive offers elsewhere, Randy and Lesley were determined to keep their family in Victoria. Randy Bennett’s legacy will live on in the pool at Saanich Commonwealth Place, and he will always be remembered for his contributions to his sport, his community and his country.
SPONSORED BY ISLAND SWIMMING