Brent Hayden Becomes Oldest Man to Go Sub-48 in the 100 Free – By 5 Years


Team Canada is having a big meet so far at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, as highlighted by the men’s 400 free relay finishing 4th on Monday morning.

That was the country’s highest-ever finish in that relay since it was added for the 1964 Olympics.

While it didn’t get the attention it should have, because it ultimately wasn’t a medal, but at a meet where athletes have struggled by-and-large to swim well in the morning finals sessions, they swam really well.

The Canadian men did not have a great Trials meet, after lockdowns and the meet being moved several times.

Josh Liendo had a great swim at that meet in 48.13, but Ruslan Gaziev was 48.81, Markus Thormeyer was 49.24, and Javier Acevedo was 49.32. Nothing in those times indicated this country would be anywhere near an Olympic podium.

Yuri Kisil and Brent Hayden didn’t actually swim that 100 free at Trials.

But then in the final, they showed up.


  • Brent Hayden – 47.99
  • Josh Liendo – 47.51
  • Yuri Kisil – 47.15
  • Markus Thormeyer – 48.17

Kisil’s previous best relay split, at the Rio Olympics, was a 47.70. He shows up when the lights are brightest. Liendo’s previous best relay split was 48.28, actually slower than his best flat start, but he’s the teenager on the rise.

Markus Thormeyer’s previous best relay split was 48.29, also at the Rio Olympics. He’s really progressed more into a backstroker later in his career, so to come back to the freestyle and anchor this team with a new lifetime best split is gutsy.

Those three should all be back for Paris.

And then there’s old reliable, the comeback ‘kid,’ the 37-year old Brent Hayden. The country’s best sprinter ever who decided to take a go at Tokyo just before the COVID shutdowns set in last year, got his qualifying time, then had to hold on for dear life for another year.

He lead off the relay in 47.99. Hold me back, but that’s gotta be the best non-medal swim so far, and might hold up as the most impressive swim we’ll see this week in Tokyo.

For context, Hayden, at 37, is the oldest man to ever go sub-48 seconds in the 100 free. And it’s not even close.

The next-oldest is Jason Lezak, the American hero, who at 32-years old swam 47.67 to tie Cesar Cielo for bronze. That was in a partial-poly suit at the 2008 Olympic Games, the same meet where he had that legendary relay anchor. He was also 47.98 in the semi-finals of that meet.

The only other swimmer over the age of 30 to go sub-48 seconds on a flat-start is the legendary Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband, who swam 47.75 and 47.68 at age 30 at the 2008 Olympics. The prelims swim of 47.68 was a best time, and he was slightly slower to place 5th in the final (behind Lezak).

And that’s it. So Hayden has those guys cleared by at least 5 years.

Oldest Swimmers to Swim Faster than 48 Seconds, Men’s 100 LCM Freestyle:

  • Brent Hayden – 37 years, 9 months, 5 days
  • Jason Lezak – 32 years, 5 months, 9 days
  • Pieter van den Hoogenband – 30 years, 4 months, 30 days

Unlike those two, Hayden’s 30-plus breakout swim is not a personal best. At the 2009 World Championships, he swam 47.27, which stands as the Canadian Record still.

By Paris, Liendo will replace Hayden, and so the Canadians will, in essence, need to find someone to replace Liendo’s leg if they want to push for a medal. Ruslan Gaziev, a 22-year old who was 48.8 at Trials, is a likely candidate. Other possibilities include Cole Pratt or Finlay Knox – young, talented swimmers who don’t specialize in the 100 free but have good times anyway.

Other teenage possibilities on the horizon include Edouart Dullum-Huot from the Pointe-Claire Swim Club, James Lebuke from the Columbia Shuswap Selkirks Swim Club, and 18-year old Dillon Fernando from the Ramac Swim Club, who already has a 51.84 to his name.

We saw the Canadian women have a breakthrough with a 4th-place 800 free relay in Rio, and four years later, with added resources and focus and publicity, they won an Olympic medal in that relay (among a breakout 6 total medals). This Canadian men’s team feels like that team, from 2012, on the precipice. With one more turn of the generation, they should be there, and among all that Hayden has accomplished in his long career, that could stand as his ultimate legacy.

Canada Men’s All-Time Best Relay Performances:

Canada has a high finish of 4th in the men’s 800 free relay at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, and they have won 4 medals in the 400 medley relay: at medals at the boycotted 1980 (bronze) and 1984 (silver) Olympics, as well as the 1976 (silver) 1972 (bronze) and 1988 (silver) Games.


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Gogo bibi
2 months ago

Than canadian relay time would have won at least bronze during 2011,2013,2015,2017, 2019 World champs and 2012 and 2016 olympics. Just to show how fast last night race was!!

2 months ago

Magical swim, and beautiful shiny head.

2 months ago

Hayden is also the only swimmer other than Cielo who has been able to go sub-48 both during and after the suits era.

Gogo bibi
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
2 months ago

And PVH did it before and during the suit era

Reply to  Notanyswimmer
2 months ago

I’d say that Pieter Van Den Hoogenband’s 47 at the 2000 Olympics counts as not being part of the suits era.

Reply to  bigNowhere
2 months ago

Well technically the person said during and after. Not before and during…..

I agree with you all, but the original poster could argue that if desired. 🙂

Reply to  bigNowhere
2 months ago

Yes but Pieter Van Den Hoogenband – if I read the article above correctly – would have been in his early to mid-twenties…

2 months ago

What a guy!

Coach Rob
2 months ago

I thought that guy looked old! Then again, who am I to speak being in my 50s *wink wink*. Great job Brent!

2 months ago

An example of how swimming can be a team sport. Not to discredit the swims by the other 3, but you can’t tell me Hayden’s 47.99 didn’t supercharge those guys to crush their PBs.

Is they any chance we can convince Hayden to stick around another 3 years?

Reply to  HJones
2 months ago

We are trying…3 ‘short’ years to Paris!!

Reply to  HJones
2 months ago

he hasn’t said no to sticking around and is signed for ISL for the fall

2 months ago

Canada’s swim team is very lovable. Maggie Mac in her massive glasses, tiny Summer McIntosh, Big Brent – old enough to be Summer’s granddaddy. They’re like a Wes Anderson film.

Bill G
2 months ago

Since Canada also boycotted the 1980 Olympics, I’m not sure how they captured a bronze medal in the medley relay at those Games. REL “they have won 4 medals in the 400 medley relay: …. at the boycotted 1980 (bronze) and 1984 (silver) Olympics, as well as the 1976 (silver) 1972 (bronze) and 1988 (silver) Games.” ..

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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