When three-time Olympian Brent Hayden left competitive swimming seven years ago, he was headed down a dark path.
The Canadian suffered from debilitating back spasms and was struggling with depression as he prepared for the London Olympics in 2012. There were times when he couldn’t walk for days in a row and his psychologist was coming to see him up to twice a week.
Yet during what he calls the worst year of his life, Hayden captured bronze in the 100-metre freestyle in London, marking Canada’s first-ever medal in the event.
Then he retired from competitive swimming.
“For me to win that medal, I think it meant more than most people realized,” Hayden said Wednesday.
“Without a solution to the back spasms and without an end to the spiral I was going through, I just knew I couldn’t be successful moving forward.”
For years, Hayden pursued other endeavours, including photography, swim clinics and launching a clothing line with his wife, Nadina Zarifeh.
Now, the 36-year-old from Mission, B.C., is jumping back in the pool. Hayden announced Wednesday he is coming out of retirement and has already been training in Vancouver for several weeks.