Hayden began swimming with the Mission Marlins swim club at age six. As a boy, Hayden was diagnosed with dyslexia; this resulted in him not understanding all that was told to him, and occasionally having to repeat his swimming lessons.
Brent Hayden, swimmer (b at Maple Ridge, B.C. 21 October, 1983). Brent Hayden is a swimming world champion, world record holder, and two-time Olympian, and earned Canada's first world title in swimming since Victor Davis 1986.
Hayden began swimming with the Mission Marlins swim club at age six. As a boy, Hayden was diagnosed with dyslexia; this resulted in him not understanding all that was told to him, and occasionally having to repeat his swimming lessons. As a result, coaches learned to explain things to him individually, and check for comprehension. At sixteen, Hayden joined the Chilliwack Spartans, swimming with the club for two years. In 2002, Hayden became a member of the Canadian National Swim Team.
Hayden immediately gained international success. At the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships in Yokohama, Japan, he won two bronze medals in the 4x100 m and 4x200 m freestyle relays, while also setting his first Canadian record in the 100 m freestyle, in which he placed fourth. His success continued at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, where he finished with two bronze medals in the 4x100m medley and 4x100m freestyle relays. His major international success of 2003 came at the World Cup in Stockholm, where he took the silver medal in the 200 m freestyle swim.
2004 marked Hayden's first Olympic Games appearance; the Games marked a significant turning point for Hayden, but not for his performance in the pool, where the closest he got to the podium was a fifth place finish in the 4x200 m freestyle relay. The night before the closing ceremonies, Hayden and his friends walked into the middle of a protest, after which he was wrongfully beaten and arrested by Greek riot police. Due to his injuries, Hayden could not compete in the 2004 World Short Course Championships that were coming up. Although Hayden filed a complaint with the Greek government, it claimed that the protest was contained peacefully.
After the incident, Hayden was determined to return to the sport. In 2005, he took gold in the 200 m freestyle swim at the World Cup in Belo Horizonte, in Brazil. He followed this performance with two silver medals in 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays at the World Aquatic Championships in Montreal. The next year, Hayden competed at the World Cup Belo Horizonte event, taking home two gold in the 100 m and 200 m freestyle.
2006 also marked Hayden's second Pan Pacific Championships, with two bronze finishes in the 50 m freestyle and 4x200 m relay, and a Pan Pacific Championship record and gold medal in the 100 m freestyle. At his second Commonwealth Games, in 2006, he won a with a silver in the 50 m freestyle, and bronze in the 100 m freestyle, 200 m freestyle, and 4x100 m freestyle relay.
In 2007, Hayden returned to Melbourne for the 2007 World Championships, where he tied for gold in the 100 m, and took a bronze in the 4x200 m freestyle relay. The win was Canada's first world title in the pool since 1986. The event also marked Hayden breaking his own Canadian record. Unbeknownst to Hayden, it would be his last time on a world competition podium until 2011. The next year, Hayden injured his back and was forced to spend the night before the Olympic trials in the hospital. His injury meant he missed the 50 m freestyle trials, but qualified for the 100 m and 200 m freestyle events. At the Games, Hayden set two Canadian records in the 4x100 m freestyle and 4x200 m freestyle, breaking his own 100 m record set just a year earlier. Despite his personal time on the relay being among the fastest relay splits of all time, Hayden finished off the podium in all events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Hayden was determined to succeed at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. While there, Hayden came down with Delhi Belly, resulting in significant weight loss. Notwithstanding his illness, Hayden finished with two gold in the 100 m freestyle and the 50 m freestyle, setting Commonwealth Games records in both events.
In 2011, Hayden finished second in the 100 m freestyle at the World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China. It was Hayden's first world medal since 1997.
Outside of swimming, Hayden studied at the University of British Columbia. Hayden also has a black belt in Isshin Ryu Karate, is also a designer and photographer, and has modeled for Speedo brands.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Brent Hayden won the bronze medal in the Men's 100m Freestyle.