Brent Matthew Hayden, or “Soup” to his friends (for the Superman tattoo on his chest), has represented Canada for more than ten years as a competitive swimmer. During that short amount of time, he has accomplished goals and shattered records, all while accumulating a number of medals for outstanding athletic performance in aquatic events.
For a man who had to repeat swimming lessons as a kid, Hayden has come far to become the fastest swimmer in Canadian history, bringing distinction and honor to his nation as well as his hometown of Mission, Canada.
A Snapshot of Hayden’s Fast-Paced Career
Despite his obvious mastery of freestyle swimming, Hayden’sfirst Olympic appearancedid not bode well for the young athlete. At age 20, Hayden competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics as a member of the Canadian swimming team, where he finished low at number 13 in the 200-metre freestyle.
To make matters worse, Hayden was arrested by riot police in Athens when he was mistaken for a protester at the event. The beating he sustained at their hands left him sidelined for the upcoming World Short Course Championships occurring the following month.
Far from dampening his competitive spirit, these setbacks ignited Hayden’s thirst for aquatic success, and he surged forward to achieve his first international silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne for the 50-metre freestyle.
Considering that he hadn’t even intended to race in the event, this win bolstered his confidence and he went on to garner three additional bronze medals at the same games.
Keeping the Momentum Going
His lucky streak continued at the 2007 World Aquatics Championships where he tied for gold in the 100-metre freestyle, bringing Canadians the victory of their first World Championship in over thirty years.
At that event, he beat his own national record with a time of 48.43, earning himself a mural on the Mission Leisure Center by artist Pascal A. Pelletier, a day named in his honor by the mayor of his hometown, Mission, and a swim meet sponsored by the Mission Marlins renamed in his honor, christened “The Brent Hayden Invitational.”
Back to the Big Time
Further training saw him competing in the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008, where he crushed his previous national record with a time of 47.56 in the opening leg of the 4x100-metre freestyle. Unfortunately, the Canadian 4x200-metre freestyle team finished fifth at the event, although they also set a Canadian time record.
We should note that out of a pool of sixteen swimmers that included Olympic superstar Michael Phelps, Hayden qualified as third fastest — just one behind Phelps. Despite that impressive showing, Hayden failed to qualify for the 100-metre freestyle finals and only one swimmer on the team took a medal for the team.
Our intrepid Hayden was not deterred by the setback. Instead, he redoubled his efforts and set his sights on the next event.
Regrouping and Persevering
Hayden’s next chance to shine came at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships where he once again shaved time off of his previous record with an astounding 47.27 second finishing time in the 100-metre freestyle, his signature event.
Despite setting a new Canadian record, he missed the podium by a mere 0.02 seconds, perhaps in part due to the fact that he wore the Speedo LZR suit rather than the newer polyurethane-covered Jaked or Arena X-Glide suits worn by the other competitors at the games.
Never intimidated by reversals, he surged forward at the Delhi-based 2010 Commonwealth Games to reach his fastest times in both the 50- and 100-metre freestyle. In fact, he set a Games record in the 4x100-metre event on the first day, then broke his record again in the individual event with a time of 47.98.
His performance made him the leading swimmer in the world at the event, ahead of even 22-time Olympian Michael Phelps. He continued his winning streak by medaling in gold for the 50-metre freestyle with an incredible time of 22.01 seconds.
He moved effortlessly into the 2011 World Aquatics Championships by nabbing a silver in the 100-metre freestyle event and by showing notable improvements on his starting 50-metre as he prepared for his next Olympic bid.
The Final Countdown
With the 2012 Summer Olympics in sight, Hayden ramped up his training to prepare for what would be his final appearance at the Olympic games.
And what an amazing event it turned out to be for this star athlete as he became the first Canadian to make it to the finals of the 100-metre freestyle event since Canadian swimming champion Dick Pound accomplished it in 1960.
Not only did Hayden make it to the finals, but he also won a bronze medal for his beloved Canadian swimming team and closed out his career on an indisputable high note.
Lessons Learned and Moving Forward
Brent Hayden may have retired from competitive swimming, but athletics is near and dear to his heart. To keep his finger on the pulse of the industry, he and his wife, singer/songwriter Nadina Zarifeh, have designed a unique line of apparel for the athletic lifestyle, Astra Athletica.
Now based in beautiful Vancouver, Hayden stays busy running his apparel business, keeping up with his hobbies — he’s an avid photographer withseveral exhibitions under his belt — and staying fit.
To make sure he’s at his best each day, Hayden focuses on exercising, eating well, and getting a good night’s sleep — lessons learned from a lifetime of training for success. And, to ensure the best night’s sleep possible, Hayden chooses a Lunazen mattress.
Not only is Lunazen entirely Canadian-sourced and produced, it’s designed to provide exceptional support and quality for the most comfortable sleep on the planet. Made of premium materials and never compressed, this luxury mattress deserves a gold medal for comfort, value, and quality.