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Brent Matthew Hayden (born October 21, 1983) is a Canadian competitive swimmer. Representing Canada for a decade, Hayden is regarded as the fastest swimmer in Canadian history. Hayden won a bronze medal in the 100-metre freestyle at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London with a time of 47.80. He was world champion in the same event in 2007 with Filippo Magnini of Italy. By winning the 100-metre, Hayden became the first Canadian in 21 years to win a gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships, he was also the first Canadian to appear in the 100-metre final at the Olympics since Dick Pound at the 1960 Summer Olympics, and the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in the 100-metre. Hayden adds a further three silver and one bronze medal to his World Championship totals. In addition, Hayden is currently the Canadian record-holder in the 200-metre, 100-metre and 50-metre freestyle in both the short-course and long-course. He has also held the world record in the 4×100-metre medley relay, and the 4×200-metre freestyle relay. He's currently the vice-captain of the Toronto Titans for the International Swimming League.
Following a 7 year retirement, Brent Hayden announced his comeback in September 2019 (https://www.cbc.ca/playersvoice/entry/second-splash-is-the-sweetest-im-back-in-the-pool). After only 6 months of training, Brent is proving to be in top form swimming under the Olympic “A” Qualifying time with a 21.97 in the 50m Freestyle at the TYR Pro Series which was held in Des Moines, Iowa.
International Swimming League
In spring 2020, Brent signed with the Toronto Titans for their inaugural season. This will be the first time Brent has swam in the ISL.
2011: Hayden went on to touch out for the silver on a long glide in the 100-metre freestyle final at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships. He had gone into the World Championships having set the previous world's best time the last season. His further successes came as Hayden was working on improving his starting 50-metre as he was known more as a finisher in the last 50.
2009: Hayden attended the 2009 World Aquatics Championships. He failed in the defense of his world title in the 100-metre freestyle, placing fourth with a new Canadian record time of 47.27 seconds and missing the podium by 0.02 seconds. César Cielo was the world champion, and set a new world mark of 46.91 seconds. Hayden was the only swimmer in the final to choose not to wear one of the newest "super suits". He chose to wear the Speedo LZR, which was the suit worn by most swimmers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, whereas every other swimmer in that final was wearing either the new Arena X-Glide or Jaked (both of these suits are completely covered in polyurethane).
2010: Hayden showed strong character in bouncing back in the pool at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, clocking the fastest times in his respective events (50-metre freestyle, and 100-metre freestyle); setting a Games record in the 100-metre freestyle during day one, in the 4×100-metre freestyle relay final and then breaking his Games record again, in the individual final with a time of 47.98 seconds—0.56 of a second ahead of the silver medalist, Simon Burnett. Hayden held the number one ranking in the world at the time in this event (also being ahead of 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps). In the 50-metre freestyle, he won gold with a Games record time of 22.01 seconds.
2008: At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, he was a member of the Canadian team that finished sixth in the 4×100-metre freestyle event and fifth in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay event. Although he qualified third fastest out of sixteen swimmers, one place ahead of Michael Phelps, he did not compete in the semi-finals of the 200-metre freestyle. Instead, his coach decided to rest him for the 4×100-metre freestyle, which was held that same day (Hayden set a Canadian record in the opening leg with a time of 47.56). He failed to qualify for the finals in the 100-metre freestyle despite being the incumbent World Champion holder in that event. While Hayden was promoted as the best Canadian swimmer at these games with his world title, only fellow long-distance freestyle Ryan Cochrane managed to medal for the nation in the pool, while the remainder of the swim team failed to make the podium despite a general improvement over their 2004 showing.
2006: In Melbourne for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Hayden won his first major international silver medal when he finished second in the 50-metre freestyle, an event he had not intended on racing. He also added three bronze medals at the same games, two from the relays and one in the 200-metre freestyle final. Those medals were a premonition of the success to come for Hayden at the 2007 World Aquatics Championships. There he tied for the gold medal with the Italian swimmer in the 100-metre freestyle; this was the first World Championship for the Canadians since 1986. In the process of winning the gold, Hayden had also shaved down his own national record in the event down to 48.43 and he also added a bronze from the World's in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay. As a result of his victory, the mayor of Mission declared "Brent Hayden Day" on May 26, 2007. As well, the Mission Marlins renamed their swim meet to the "Brent Hayden Invitational" and a large mural, painted on the wall of the Mission Leisure Center, by artist Pascal A. Pelletier, was unveiled.
2004: Athens was the location of Hayden's first Olympics when he took part in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens as part of the Canadian swimming team. It was a disappointing first Olympic appearance for Hayden, as inexperience took its toll on the 20-year-old. His best individual finish at the Games was 13th in the 200-metre freestyle event. It was further worsened when Brent was mistaken for a protester and beaten up and arrested by the riot police because he was "tall and wearing a dark shirt" the night before the Closing Ceremonies, a week after his competition ended. The injuries sustained left him unable to compete at the World Short Course Championships which were being held a month later.
Perseverance and redemption in London 2012
After disappointment struck at the previous two Olympic games for Hayden where he failed to qualify for the 100-metre finals, he became the first Canadian to do so in swimming's glamour event since Dick Pound in 1960. He went on to win bronze medal for Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 100-metre men's freestyle after a strong start placed him in medal contention at the turn. Gold and silver went to American Nathan Adrian and world champion James Magnussen of Australia, while Hayden beat out César Cielo and Yannick Agnel for third; the medals were also presented by Dick Pound. Though only a bronze, the medal was a redemption for Hayden, who was visibly ecstatic at winning an Olympic medal at long last. With his Olympic medal finally in his possession, he said that "There are so many times when you can dream of something but a million out of a million and one times it won't come true. This was one of the things that I was very fortunate as a human being to have happen to me."
Hayden announced his retirement from the sport after the 4×100-metre medley relay at the Olympics but said he believed in the Canadian swim team to thrive in the future, saying that "I think in the grand scheme of things, with the people we have, we've done an amazing job … As long as we keep that momentum building, I think we're going to see more success come from more diverse events."
Despite being a strong freestyle swimmer later in life, as a child he had to repeat his swimming lessons. He is known as "Soup" to his friends due to the superman tattoo he has on his chest. Hayden was born and raised in Mission, but resides in Vancouver. He attended the University of British Columbia where he studied. He also has a black belt in Isshin Ryu karate. After the London 2012 Games, Hayden flew to Lebanon and married Nadina Zarifeh, a singer/songwriter, on August 19.
Hayden appeared on CBC's television show Canada's Smartest Person as a competitor in 2014, but he did not win the title. He and his wife Zarifeh created their own line of athletic lifestyle apparel, Astra Athletica, a business which they currently run. Hayden has also pursued photography as a passion and has had several exhibitions.
- 2005 Canadian Swimmer of the Year
- 2005 BC Athlete of the Year (Finalist)
- 2005 Canadian Partners of the Year
- 2006 Canadian Swimmer of the Year
- 2006 BC Athlete of the Year
- 2007 Canadian Swimmer of the Year
- 2007 BC Athlete of the Year
- 2007 Canadian Athlete of the Year
- 2012 Canadian Athlete of the Year (Finalist)
- 2012 Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal Recipient
- 2013 BC Sports Hall Of Fame Induction (Class of 2013)
- List of Canadian records in swimming
- List of Commonwealth Games medallists in swimming (men)
- List of Olympic medalists in swimming (men)
- World record progression 4 × 100 metres medley relay
- World record progression 4 × 200 metres freestyle relay
- "Canada's Brent Hayden takes silver at swim worlds". CBC Sports. July 28, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- "Brent Hayden profile". Canadian Olympic Committee. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- "London 2012 profile". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on January 3, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- Tony Care (August 1, 2012). "Perseverance, sacrifice define Canada's Brent Hayden". CBC Sports.
- Randy Starkman (April 1, 2008). "Gentle giant Hayden ready to rule the pool". Toronto Star. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
- Sean Gordon (August 1, 2012). "Canadian Brent Hayden's bronze a beautiful thing". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
- Tony Care (August 1, 2012). "Canada's Brent Hayden captures bronze in 100m freestyle". CBC Sports.
- Allan Maki (August 5, 2012). "Olympic swimming was a meet of beginnings and ends". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- "Brent Hayden to Compete for Title of Canada's Smartest Person". Swim Swam. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- "Our story". Astra Athletica. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
- "Olympic swimmer Brent Hayden gets creative with a camera". Vancouver Sun. March 7, 2014. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
- "Brent Hayden's photography subject of solo art show". Mission City Record. June 9, 2018. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
- "Olympian Brent Hayden featured in a solo exhibition of his photography". The Abbotsford News. June 25, 2018. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
- "Olympic medalist brings his photography to town". Stanwood Camano News. June 9, 2018. Retrieved 2019-04-21.