Brent Hayden swims Olympic 'A' time in placing 3rd at Pro Swim Series event
Canadian clocks 21.97 seconds in men's 50m freestyle in 3rd race out of retirement
Canada's Brent Hayden made a statement Saturday night as he continues his comeback, placing third in men's 50-metre freestyle at a Pro Swim Series meet on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.
The 36-year-old posted an impressive time of 21.97 seconds in his third race after ending his seven-year retirement last fall. World champion Caeleb Dressel (21.51) and fellow American Nathan Adrian (21.88) were the only swimmers to beat the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist.
Hayden's time fell under the Olympic 'A' time of 22.01 that he'll probably need to reach at the March 30-April 5 Tokyo Olympic trials in Toronto.
The native of Mission, B.C., holds the Canadian mark in the event at 21.73, set in 2009.
I can now say I've raced the last 4 generation greats: Popov, Thorpe, Phelps, and now Dressel... what a journey.—@thebrenthayden
Last October, Hayden set his sights on the 2020 Summer Games after years away from swimming.
"I retired because I was putting an end to the worst year of my life," Hayden told Scott Russell of CBC Sports from his home in Vancouver last fall.
Kierra Smith 6th in 200 breaststroke
"I was spiralling towards depression. My back was in terrible shape and constantly in spasm. Those around me and closest to me had created a toxic environment. I got that medal in spite of everything. I felt it was time to try and end on a high note while I still could."
Hayden, who trains at the University of British Columbia's high-performance centre in Vancouver with his former coach Tom Johnson, is also the Canadian-record holder in the 100 and 200 freestyle events.
On the women's side, Kierra Smith of Kelowna, B.C., was sixth in the women's 200 breaststroke 'A' final in two minutes 28.31 seconds.
Last season, the 26-year-old was a member of the women's 4x100 medley team that earned a bronze medal at the FINA world championships and set a Canadian record.
Smith qualified for her first Olympic final in the 200 breaststroke and finished seventh in Rio in 2016.