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John Hayes, a 3-time individual high school state champion in Kentucky, has verbally committed to Alabama. A high school junior, Hayes is expected to arrive in the fall of 2022. He is the 16th-ranked recruit in the boy’s high school class of 2022.
He is the 3rd top-20 boys’ recruit to have announced his verbal commitment so far, following Lance Norris and Michael Cotter, who committed jointly to NC State last week. They are part of about 25 swimmers in the class of 2022 who have committed to D1 programs. This in spite of the challenges facing the class, who are unable to take official campus visits or meet with coaches or team members face-to-face.
In 2019 as a freshman, Hayes won his first Kentucky state title for Elizabethtown High in suburban Louisville, topping the 500 free in 4:31.48. That year, he also finished 3rd in the 200 free in 1:39.52 – his first time dipping under 1:40.
A year later, he dropped a lot of time and won both events at the Kentucky State Championship. That included a 5 second drop to go 4:26.37 in the 500 free, and dropping over 2 seconds to go 1:37.24 in the 200 free. He needed those drops to fight off another very fast middle-distance freestyler in the state, Jack Anderson, who is also a junior this year. Anderson has not yet made his college commitment.
Both of those times were lifetime bests for Hayes as well, and give him Summer Juniors qualifying standards. A true middle-distance freestyler, right now his best time in the 100 free is better than his best time in the 1000 or 1650 frees.
Best Times in Yards:
- 50 free – 21.01 (20.66 relay split)
- 100 free – 45.67
- 200 free – 1:37.14
- 500 free – 4:26.37
- 1650 free – 16:33.64
Hayes is Alabama’s only announced commitment in the class of 2022 so far. Holden Smith, another Louisville-area swimmer, announced his commitment to Alabama in 2019, but this week de-committed from Alabama and chose Texas instead. Smith was originally a member of the class of 2021, but decided to take a gap year and enroll in the class of 2022 instead.
Middle distance freestyles were not a strength of Alabama at the 2020 SEC Championships, which wrapped up Coley Stickels‘ first season leading the team. The 11 points they scored in the 200 free was their lowest-scoring event. They did better in the 500 free thanks to distance-oriented swimmer Nico Hernandez-Tome, who was 8th in that event, but he is transferring to Florida in 2022 after sitting out next season.
The Crimson Tide hit the middle-to-distance freestyle events in the class of 2021 as well. That includes Jackson Demont (1:40/4:28/15:40) and Nikolas Lee-Bishop (1:38/4:31/15:31). On top of the class of 2020’s Matthew King (1:38.0 in the 200 free), Blake Peeples (1:40/4:26/15:38), and Eric Stelmar (1:38.8), the Crimson Tide are slowly rebuilding that group over the next few years.
With Hayes’ addition, though, that building will go into overdrive: even with 2 years to go before he begins his college career, Hayes is already faster than all of those listed above in his best events.
Hayes trains with Cardinal Aquatics
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