Canadian Olympic Trials: Brent Hayden Sprints Into Fourth Olympics in 50

Brent Hayden-Olympic Swimming Trials-f-21june2021Photo Scott Grant
Brent Hayden; Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Swimming Canada

Canadian Olympic Trials: Brent Hayden Sprints Into Fourth Olympics in 50

As a 25-year-old, clad in a super suit, Brent Hayden was a 21.7 50 freestyler back in 2009. As a 37-year-old, in a textile suit, one retirement and three Olympic cycles later, Hayden is just a tenth of a second slower.

Factor in the suits, and it’s no contest: Hayden is swimming as well as ever. And the world champion is enjoying the journey more than ever.

Brent Hayden-Olympic Swimming Trials-h-21june2021Photo Scott Grant

Brent Hayden; Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Swimming Canada

Hayden booked his place in the Tokyo Olympics, his fourth Games, by winning the 50 freestyle at Canadian Olympic Trials Monday. Hayden won the final in 21.82 seconds. It solidifies an A cut he set in May. His time is within nine hundredths of a second of Hayden’s national record of 21.73, set in 2009.

“It feels great,” Hayden said. “If I swam that race with the same suit, that would’ve been a Canadian record right there. That probably would’ve been a 21.4 or 21.3 with the same suit. In a way, my body is actually performing better than it ever was before.”

Hayden won bronze in the 100 freestyle at the 2012 Olympics in London. He retired from the sport in 2012, growing disillusioned with the sport. But he fell back in love with the water in 2019 and announced a comeback. What was supposed to be a brief sprint toward the 2020 Trials has turned into a two-year odyssey through the pandemic, via stops at the TYR Pro Swim Series and as a founding member of the Toronto Titans in the International Swimming League.

And all along, Hayden has not just embraced the grind but flourished. He’s swimming alongside teammates – like fellow sprinter Joshua Liendo – who weren’t born when Hayden had his first Olympic cut. The oldest Olympic swimmer in Canadian history will be sharing a team in Tokyo with 14-year-old Summer McIntosh. And he’s enjoying the ride.

“It’s one of the greatest feelings ever,” Hayden said. “I’ve never been this excited making an Olympic team. In the past, Olympic Trials had always been a step to get to the Olympics, but after being away from the sport for seven years and working against the odds …. To be able to come here and be able to add Olympics No. 4, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Speaking of Liendo, he continued an outstanding Trials by hitting the A cut in morning prelims in the 50 free at 22.01, augmenting the 100 fly cut he garnered Saturday. Liendo pushed Hayden all the way to the wall, finishing second in 21.90.

Third was mainstay Yuri Kisil in 22.15, a level of speed that bodes well for the Canadian 400 free relay.

The job isn’t done for Hayden. He’ll contest the men’s 100 free Tuesday, where he’s the top seed with an A cut. And getting to Tokyo isn’t the culmination but rather another chance for him to have fun in the pool and, long since freed of the weight of expectations, make more history.

“Getting there isn’t enough,” he said. “My main goal is to go there and throw down a performance I can be proud of. If I can just throw down a great performance, then I can accept any result. And that’s how I swam my biggest events. That’s how I swam for the World Championships gold medal. That’s how I swam for the Olympic bronze medal.”

Event 16  Men 50 LC Meter Freestyle
     CANADIAN: N 21.73  2009-07-31Brent Hayden, UBCD
    OLYMPIC A: A 22.01
    Name                 Year Team              Prelims     Finals        
                        === A - Final ===                         
  1 Brent Hayden          83 HPCVN               22.09      21.82A 
  2 Liendo, Joshua         02 NYAC                22.01      21.90A 
  3 Kisil, Yuri            95 WS                  22.34      22.15  
  4 Loginov, Oleksandr     92 TSC                 22.75      22.59  
  5 Ayoubi, Mehdi          98 CAMO                22.58      22.60  
  6 Bougie, Spencer        94 PCSC                22.89      22.82  
  7 Marcoux, Philippe      99 UL                  22.99      22.87  
  8 Marcoux, Raphael       98 UL                  22.97      22.98  
  9 Calkins, Stephen       98 UCSC                23.05      23.02  
 10 Fullum-Huot, Edouard   02 PCSC                23.01      23.05  

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Kayla Sanchez is officially an Olympian, the sprinter going 24.68 in finals to rout the field in the 50. It’s the only A cut of the race.

Kayla Sanchez-Olympic Swimming Trials-f-21june2021Photo Scott Grant

Kayla Sanchez; Photo Courtesy: Scott Grant/Swimming Canada

Second was Sarah Fournier in 25.31. Kylie Masse rose to third in 25.49, in which should bolster her bid for a spot on the 400 free relay. Katerine Savard was fourth.

Sanchez, who was part of the bumper crop of stars at the 2017 World Junior Championships that announced Canadian women’s swimming’s return to the global stage, was arguably the biggest name not among the early Olympians named to the team in May. That added some pressure, but she executed well under the weight of it.

“It kind of put an extra bit of pressure on, but I know I did the right work heading in, so I was pretty confident coming into Trials,” she said. “I know my role, I know what the girls want to achieve in the relay and whatever I can do to help, I’ll try my best.”

Sanchez is, as she mentions, a vital relay cog. (Her role is even more important if Taylor Ruck, who missed the final in the 200 free and withdrew from the 50, both events in which she holds the Canadian record, doesn’t regain her form before Tokyo.) She’s made the most of the extra year, accelerating plans for shoulder surgery last year that, had the Olympics been held as scheduled, she would’ve swam through.

A year later, she’s fully healthy. And solidifying her Tokyo spot offers confidence to take into those team races.

“It’s a good feeling,” she said. “I think it sets me up really well for the 100 tomorrow. If I have that confidence going in, it should be a good race.”

Event 15  Women 50 LC Meter Freestyle
     CANADIAN: N 24.26  2018-04-07Taylor Ruck, SCAR
    OLYMPIC A: A 24.77
    Name                 Year Team              Prelims     Finals        
                        === A - Final ===                         
  1 Sanchez, Kayla         01 AAC                 25.13      24.68A 
  2 Fournier, Sarah        96 CNQ                 25.54      25.31  
  3 Masse, Kylie           96 TSC                 25.89      25.49  
  4 Savard, Katerine       93 CAMO                25.56      25.52  
  5 Lemieux, Roxane        91 NN                  25.68      25.63  
  6 Cornish, Hannah        03 USC                 25.76      25.64  
  7 Douthwright, Brooklyn  03 CNBO                25.95      25.70  
  8 Scholes, Dylan         04 MAC                 26.03      26.06  
  9 Kidd, Georgia          98 TSC                 25.94      26.15  
 10 Hannah, Jade           02 HTAC                26.12      26.25  
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Kylie Wood
2 years ago

Rod Welsh

Marise Awad
2 years ago

Woohooo! Way to go Brent!

John Farrell
John Farrell
2 years ago

Swimming ?‍♂️ is awesome

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