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Brenau University's Hayward captures NAIA swimming national title in 1650 freestyle
Brenau University's Courtney Hayward swims the 1650 freestyle Saturday during the NAIA national championship in Columbus. Hayward won with a time of 17 minutes, 19 seconds. - photo by AJ Reynolds

Brenau University has a national champion.

Swimming the 1650-yard freestyle for the Golden Tigers, senior Courtney Hayward captured the NAIA national championship with a time of 17 minutes, 19.77 seconds on Saturday in Columbus. Previously in her career, the Australian won the 400 individual medley her first three years competing for Brenau.

As a senior, in her final meet, Hayward conquered the distance race.

“Although this week didn’t go to plan for me, I haven’t let it define who I am and what I have gained at Brenau,” Hayward said. “In the last 1650 yards of my swimming career, I completed my collegiate journey with a win, but that is nothing compared to the many amazing successes and memories I have gained over these last four years.

“This has been an unforgettable experience with such a supportive team.”

In team points, Brenau finished fourth overall.

Also on Day 2 of the national championships, Brenau’s Lindsay Dowling took sixth in the 200-yard backstroke (2:07.24), while Yanne Toussaint won the B final of the 200 breastroke, ninth overall, in 2:25.46.

“I’m really proud of the ladies,” Golden Tigers coach Nathan Rhoads said. “We had a lot of swimmers step up this weekend and come through for us.

“I’m proud of the leadership of our seniors, Madison Kosater and Courtney Hayward. They were key to the success of this meet.”

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