SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Vancouver’s Brent Hayden led a Canadian medal barrage Sunday – and he did so with a stunning victory over swimming’s golden boy.
Hayden beat American superstar Michael Phelps to win the men’s 100-metre freestyle Sunday at the Santa Clara Grand Prix swimming competition.
Brian Johns of Vancouver and Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane of Victoria added victories in the men’s 200 individual medley and 1,500 freestyle, respectively, while Scott Dickens of Vancouver won a silver in the 200 breaststroke and Universite Laval took bronze in the men’s 4×100 medley relay.
Hayden led most of his race and clocked a meet record 48.44 seconds for the gold, giving him three medals in the competition. He also won silver in the 200 freestyle on Friday and bronze in the 50 freestyle on Saturday.
Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals in last year’s Beijing Olympics, made a second half charge out of lane eight to win the silver in 48.87. Nathan Adrian of the U.S., was third in 48.94.
Hayden was ecstatic afterward.
“I was really excited,” said Hayden. “Michael is such a great competitor and every time I get up and race him it’s such an honour. I just wanted to get a fast time and 48.44 is my best ever in-season (training) time so of course I’m going to be excited.
“A few years ago at this pool, he beat me on the turn and I didn’t want that to happen again … I had one my stronger turns.”
Hayden’s coach Tom Johnson was equally impressed.
“The level of the field was really strong and Brent rose to the occasion,” said Johnson. “Anytime you can win a race against Michael Phelps it’s a good thing. It’s a good indicator and puts him into the mix with just over a month to go before the world championships.”
In the men’s 1,500 freestyle, Cochrane fended off a charging Robert Hurley of Australia for the victory in 15:06.70. Hurley followed 0.38 seconds behind.
“Ryan showed in this race that he’s gained a lot of experience,” said Cochrane’s coach Randy Bennett. “He knew what he needed to do to get the win. We were both hoping for a better time and he’ll work on being sharper and faster for the trials.”
In the men’s 200 individual medley, Johns blasted out of the gates and dominated the field winning in 2:01.25. Jack Brown of the U.S., was second in 2:02.37 and Stephen Parkes of Australia third in 2:03.90.
“I was pretty happy with that race,” said Johns, a three-time Olympian, who is coached by Johnson. “My big goal was to get a good backstroke and get that front part of the race faster. It was a step in the right direction for that. I’m taking baby steps right now to get back in the swing of things after taking four months completely off.”
Phelps returned later in the 100 backstroke and lost to Olympic teammate Ryan Lochte, who went out fast and held on in 54.15 to complete a sweep of the backstroke events. Phelps touched second in 54.31.
Phelps went 2-for-4 in his second competition since returning from a three-month suspension by USA Swimming after a photo of him using a marijuana pipe surfaced. He won the 200 butterfly on Friday and the 400 free Saturday.
“I’m ready to go home and sleep in my own bed,” said Phelps, who arrived in Northern California direct from three weeks of altitude training in Colorado. “For me, it’s about seeing where we are and where we have to improve on. The wins are going to be more down the road.”
Coming up for Phelps is a final tuneup meet in Montreal next weekend before the U.S. nationals in Indianapolis on July 7-11. That’s where the team for the world championships in Rome will be selected.
“He always likes to win, but I think he made some progress in the 100 free and his time was pretty good in the 100 back,” Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman said. “The headline tomorrow is ‘Phelps loses twice,’ but it’s something he just has to live with.”
-With files from The Associated Press