Farewell to Lorna Cochran

Well-known Benonian and the Midmar Mile legend Lorna Cochran died on May 9 at the age of 99, 83 days before her 100th birthday.

The nonagenarian was known for her activism and deep love for Benoni, especially after challenging the local authorities about the dire state of the Benoni Town Hall in 2020, complaining that it had been allowed to degenerate into a dreadful state.

Cochran began participating in open-water swimming in 1998. She was seeking a new challenge after being dropped from the second to the third team at her tennis club, despite defeating the person who replaced her in the second team.

“She started training for her first Midmar Mile at 74. My dad had encouraged her to take up swimming after she stopped playing in the women’s tennis league,” said granddaughter Rose van Sittert.

Cochran participated in 17 consecutive Midmar Miles, breaking the record for the oldest-ever finisher of the event in 2013, aged 89. She broke a 14-year-old record held by the American swimmer Colin Cable who finished his 1999 race aged 89, four months younger than Cochran.

Her achievements in open water swimming earned her a World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Woman of the Year award nomination in 2013.

In 2015, she defended her record of the Mile’s oldest finisher at 92 years old.

Born on July 31, 1923, in Springs, Cochran attended St Dominic’s Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal where she was a boarder from Grade One.

“She participated in almost every extra-mural activity, representing the school’s first teams in hockey, tennis, netball and athletics.”

She earned her provincial hockey colours after representing Eastern Transvaal between 1948 and 1949.

“Granny had the most incredible voice and from a young age, she sang in choirs. She was head girl in 1938, aged 15,” Van Sittert said.

She married Ewan Cochran in 1945 and gave birth to Mary Clare, Peter, Donald and Ewan-Neil before the family immigrated to Zambia, where she gave birth to David, Janet and Gregory.

The family returned to South Africa in 1968 but in 1970 and before her 47th birthday and 25th wedding anniversary, she was widowed.

“Gran was our family’s matriarch. She led the family with pose and grace and never missed a person’s birthday or anniversary. Her passing has left a void in our lives. We are at peace knowing her family, community and all who knew her loved her.”

“Although her incredible life has come to an end, her memories, songs and life lessons will stay with us forever,” Van Sittert added.

She is survived by six children (one is deceased), 24 grandchildren (one is deceased) and 34 great-grandchildren.

Article Source: https://benonicitytimes.co.za/467223/farewell-to-lorna-cochran/

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