The team of USC Spartans coach Nathan Doyle and Paralympian Blake Cochrane has been a winning combination since the pair joined forces in 2017.
With a desire to work hard and extract the best out of themselves – while also valuing a good joke on pool deck – the duo share the same qualities and principles needed to create a successful coach and athlete relationship.
“Nathan is a little bit different to any of the other coaches I have had in the past,” Cochrane explained.
“He brings a different dynamic to the equation because there’s the opportunity to have a bit of a laugh and have a bit of fun.
“I think Nathan and I work really well together because when it does come to competition we focus in and we know that we’ve done the work.”
As a dual Paralympic gold medallist, the Dolphin leader is fully aware of what it takes to succeed, with his extensive and decorated career representing Australia also including podium finishes at the World Para Swimming Championships, the Para Pan Pacs and the Commonwealth Games.
With a career spanning 13 years, Cochrane has adapted to changes and challenges that have been thrown his way, which Doyle believes has made him stronger as an athlete.
“Blake really hasn’t taken his foot off the podium since he came onto the scene in 2008, and he’s swum faster than he’s swum in a long time,” Doyle said.
“To still be able to push himself whilst having all of these other tasks and responsibilities outside of the pool is a really proud moment.”
One of these new responsibilities is caring for his son, Eli, who was born in November 2019.
“For me, being a dad and wanting to spend time with the family and working around that has been very important to me, and Nathan has been very accommodating of that process as well,” Cochrane said.
Exchanging dad stories – as well as dad jokes – is a new layer they’ve added to their relationship, with Doyle also recently becoming father to daughter Matilda in December.
“Blake has been one year into fatherhood and me, about one month, so it’s role reversal and I feel like install my wisdom of swimming to Blake, and Blake is now installing his wisdom of parenting onto me,” Doyle laughed.
Heading into the twilight of his career, Cochrane has decided this year’s Games will be his last, with the duo training hard to make sure the 30-year-old can give it everything he’s got.
“Tokyo 2021 will be my last Paralympics Games, whether I go on after that, I haven’t quite decided to close that door just yet – sorry Nathan,” he chuckled.
“My attention now will be focussing on what we can make better, and then just be able to rock up, stand behind the blocks and know that we’ve done everything that we possibly can to be that perfect athlete.”
With his athlete and friend on the cusp of retirement, Doyle said Cochrane will leave an outstanding legacy and his departure will be one of mixed emotions.
“To see one retire and move on with their career is a proud moment in one sense, but then on the other side, we’re going to lose an athlete who’s contributed not only from a performance standpoint but also helped shaped the team into what it is today.
“For Blake to become a dad, graduate from University – achieve all of these milestones in life – and still be able to be arguably one of the greatest Paralympians the Australian team has seen is a really proud moment as a coach.
“To be able to share in those moments for me is really, really special and to be able to be associated with a legend of the Paralympic team is a really proud moment.”
Make sure you subscribe to Amazon Prime Video to catch Cochrane in action at the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials which takes place in June.