The Week That Was: Brent Hayden’s Comeback, Minna Atherton’s WR Dominate Headlines

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Brent Hayden announced his comeback this week at age 36. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Canada

With 271 days until the 2020 Olympic Games, perhaps it is a little early for any athlete to be making a comeback. But Canada’s Brent Hayden announced his comeback earlier this week as the now 36-year-old said he is chasing an individual medal. He won bronze in the 100 free in 2012 but was dealing with severe back spasms that caused him to leave the sport altogether after 2012. Now he is back and healthy.

The biggest story of the week was Minna Atherton of Australia and the London Roar as she broke the first ever world record in an ISL meet, by lowering the 100 back SCM record in Budapest. Atherton swam a 54.89 to lower Katinka Hosszu’s 55.03 world record from the 2014 World Championships.

Read the five biggest stories below in the week that was, counting down, 5 to 1:

The Week That Was #5: Anton Chupkov Posts Strong 2:07 200 Breast in China

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

China has celebrated getting the better of most this week in Wuhan at the 7th Military but Anton Chupkov refused to yield. The Russian World champion was almost 2sec down on his July World record in late October but a 2:07.95 was good enough for gold after a last-lap rally got him past Qin Haiyang.

Qin, who finished 14th in the event at World titles in July on 2:09.11 (inside a best of 2:09.39, at which he had held the World Junior Record since 2017), went a touch better today. His 2:08.41 career high swum from the front. Chupkov sat on Qin’s shoulder the whole way, the reserve in a man who set a world record of 2:06.12 obvious as he clawed his way back into contention and tore 0.92sec off his rival from last turn to last stroke.

#4: Olympic Legend Dawn Fraser Named Swimming Australia Life Member

“Our Dawn”, and official National Treasure in Australia, not to mention world swimming. What a week for Dawn Fraser as she got the last laugh on the blazers who banned her and prevented a likely fourth Olympic win over 100m freestyle. Ian Hanson tells the story of a pioneer of the Athlete Voice, while John Lohn recalls the unique and soaring career of a living legend.

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Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

The Week That Was #3: Daiya Seto Rattles 400 IM SCM World Record

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Japan’s Daiya Seto rattled Ryan Lochte’s short course meters world record in the 400 IM on Saturday at the Japanese Short Course Championships. Seto swam a 3:55.53 to get within 0.03 of Lochte’s world record of 3:55.50 from the 2010 World Championships. Seto remains second all-time as he lowered his own Japanese and Asian record of 3:56.33 from the 2014 Worlds. He won the final by over ten seconds. The Japanese nationals flooded the current season world rankings: a domestic meet muscling in on the standard on ISL tour.

#2: Brent Hayden Announces Comeback to Swimming at age 36

Brent Hayden

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Canada

Brent Hayden, the 2007 World 100m freestyle champion and Olympic bronze medallist from London 2012 who in 2010 claimed the Commonwealth crown for Canada, is making a comeback after seven years out of the sport.

“I retired because I was putting an end to the worst year of my life,” Hayden told CBC Sports from his home in Vancouver.

“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 turned 36 two days ago three years after watching then 35-year-old Anthony Ervin, of the United States, become the oldest Olympic champion in the pool in history with Rio 2016 victory over 50m freestyle 16 years after his first gold in that events at Sydney 2000 as a teenager.

Proof enough that Hayden is young enough. “I’m training as if I’m going for medal,” he tells CBC.

The Week That Was #1: Minna Atherton Breaks First World Record in ISL

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Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia D’Alberto/LaPresse

Minna Atherton of Australia and the London Roar set the very first world record at an International Swimming League competition as she swam the 100 SCM backstroke in 54.89, lowering Katinka Hosszu’s 55.03 record from the 2014 World Championships. Atherton has been on fire in her ISL debut at just 19-years-old, lowering her best times to move her up the all-time lists in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. She went undefeated in two weeks for the Roar, collecting six wins over all three backstroke distances in both the Dallas and Budapest matches. Swimming Australia confirmed that the World record would be submitted for ratification and that FINA had indicated that it saw no impediment to ratification, even though some ISL events will not be considered as worthy of the efforts of athletes.