Swimming: As the honors soar, Hayes finally gets a break after an incredible year in the pool | High school sports
There is a mountain of data suggesting that Aiden Hayes will only get better, bigger, stronger and faster in the pool, continuing to excel on multiple stages.
Multiple state swimming champion Norman North leaves for North Carolina state on Sunday.
A two-day road trip, he’s due to arrive in Raleigh at noon Monday, move in Wednesday and start classes on the 16th.
Soon he will have the opportunity to be one of the best swimmers in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA, not to mention the nation and the world beyond his place with the Wolfpack, as it comes with the territory when you have previously competed in the United States Olympic Trials and recently was a member of the 21-player United States Junior National Team.
In fact, the international scene will take precedence over other things.
The next stop on Hayes’ competition calendar – not to mention the pool he will share with his Wolfpack teammates, several of whom are also part of the USNJT – is the FINA World Cup, which doesn’t just take place in Berlin on October 1st. 3, but picks up in Budapest from October 7 to 9, giving his passport a workout.
Past performances aside, there is every reason to believe that Hayes will only get better, bigger, stronger and faster in the pool, continuing to excel in multiple stages, solely depending on what ‘he’s thinking about his sport right now.
“Right now,” he said, “I’m taking my first official break in nine years. I really haven’t swam for about a month.
What makes him “official” is that he has never had a real break since he dove into the sport in his youth.
“Maybe a week or two all year round,” Hayes said, though he immediately qualified the statement, saying his free time had not been entirely free.
He’s free from water for about a week – “The 16th,” he said, “I’m back” – but the amazing thing, maybe, is what the breakup caused in him.
“Especially with the Olympics going on and everything that has happened,” said Hayes, “I thought about swimming more than ever and can’t wait to get back in the pool more than ever.”
His Sooner Swim Club coach Kent Nicholson, who also runs the North and Norman High programs, called Hayes a “prodigy,” though Hayes never really saw him that way.
“He didn’t start swimming until he was 11,” said Nicholson. “Since he was 11 it was sure. “
Apparently, the natural attributes that made Hayes so remarkable, so quickly, aren’t limited to the physical.
Take him out of the pool for his first really extended break and he can’t wait to go back.
“I’m probably more obsessed with swimming right now than I’ve ever been,” said Hayes, “which is actually more of the opposite of what I thought I might feel.”
Given this revelation, perhaps the final year of Hayes’ competitive life, the historic accomplishment, is no less astonishing, but less surprising.
Hayes competed in the state swimming competition last February holding three state records in the 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.
On day one of competition, he beat his own marks in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, as well as that of his former teammate Daniel Wilson in the 100 freestyle. On the last day of the competition, he put them all back together and it wasn’t halfway.
He finished the 50 freestyle in 19.20, setting a new national public high school record. Exactly 13 minutes later, he finished the 100 butterfly in 45.47, shattering his new state mark by half a second, setting a national high school record for both public and private school competitors. In his final race, the 400 freestyle relay, he led the first 100 on a 43 flat, taking almost another half a second off the state mark he set the day before, when he improved the time. of his former teammate.
Competing in national events alongside his high school program, Hayes qualified directly for the Wave II stage of the Olympic Trials in three different events, the 200 butterfly, 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle.
Although he’s been out of the pool for a few weeks, the honors keep coming.
On August 1, Hayes was named the men’s swimmer of the year in the swimming world. Just this week, USAToday named him National High School Male Swimmer of the Year.
It has been a glorious time, but not an easy one.
“It’s been a really, really tough year,” said Hayes.
The COVID pandemic actually gave her more time to train, more time to spend in the pool, as her schooling did not require the same raw hours that she would normally have.
“These records weren’t possible without the time I was able to put in the pool and put less in school,” said Hayes.
Not that he wants to repeat it. Indeed, he believes he has a new perspective.
For the past three years, Hayes said, it was always about reaching the Olympic Trials, the dream he fulfilled in June, inside the CHI Health Center in Omaha, New Brunswick, on Creighton basketball’s 17,500-seat home.
This trip over, finally with a little time to internalize everything, he has a thought.
“This sport is much more than a week or one race every four years,” he said.
Not the destination.
Data indicates that Aiden Hayes will reach many other destinations. On his way to college, he can’t wait to get back on the road.