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.


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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9 months ago

Great article and amazing effort by Brent and the kids! Phenomenal and completely proud of Canada’s swim team.

9 months ago

The single most underrated sprinter of all time. A powerhouse, one of the fastest and most consistent textile 100FR swimmers of all time, and has whipped out fantastic 50 and 200FRs too. One of the fastest in-water swimmers in Earth’s history (that is, excluding starts & turns).

9 months ago

I’m 41 and totally the fastest lap swimmer at my Y, on some Wednesdays

The White Whale
Reply to  MKH
9 months ago

I can beat Hayden…if it’s a 75 for me to his 100…and it’s yards.

Nancy Pulham
9 months ago

Brent is very humble when it comes to how much he means to the development of this young mens Canadian team. Honestly, you could actually see the fire he burnt under Kisils and Thormyers rear when he announced his return to Swim Canada. As for the younger kids, his impact will be felt for years to come I’m sure. To top it off, he really is a good human being.

9 months ago

Let’s not forget the amazing leadership he showed after the race. Talking to each and every one of them, embracing them, etc. Such a truly amazing leader on this Canadian team. Hoping he can stick around for 3 more years!

Jay Ryan
9 months ago

Yeah. Old guys rule!!!

9 months ago

Masters World Record*

Reply to  Erik
9 months ago

It has to be a Masters meet to count as a record

9 months ago

It’s a shame this was not higher on Swimswam’s “Top 5 things” recap from yesterday..I mean, on it at all. Sure the other things deserved credit, but this definitely deserved a mention. I argue that it’s even MORE incredible given that he retired from the sport at least once (i think twice actually?). Once you let your body fall away from that world-class conditioning, it’d be very hard to get it back…especially to THAT speed. Anthony Ervin winning the 50 at 35 in 2016 was very special. I know there’s no medal associated with Hayden, but Hayden going that fast 2 yrs older than Ervin is mind boggling!

About Braden Keith

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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