Brenau University junior Courtney Hayward has been named a National Swimmer of the Week by College Swimming following her performance at last week’s Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships in Christianburg, Va.
The Townsville, Australia native led the No. 2 nationally-ranked Golden Tigers to the team’s second straight conference title with first-place finishes in the 500 freestyle, 400 individual medley, 800 freestyle finals and 1650 freestyle finals. She also swam legs of Brenau’s first-place team relay events that included the 200 yard freestyle, 400 medley and 400 freestyle relay finals.
“Not only did she win all three of her individual swims, she also smashed the [conference championship] meet record in 200 freestyle as a leadoff for our first place 800 freestyle,” said Brenau University swimming coach Nate Rhoads. “Since arriving at Brenau, she’s been a huge asset to the team.”
As a freshman, Hayward propelled the Golden Tigers to a fourth-place finish at the 2013-14 NAIA nationals in Oklahoma City, collecting two U.S. titles en route to becoming the first Brenau swimmer to receive an “All American” recognition in 30 years. She collected three more U.S. titles as a sophomore, leading the Golden Tigers to a third-place finish at the 2014-15 nationals.
The third-year psychology major, however, said she couldn’t be successful without her coach and teammates. “We have all been working hard together and have come a long way as a team,” Hayward said. “They all inspire me everyday at practice to train hard and strive to be the best I can be.”
Prior to coming to Brenau, Hayward won five Queensland titles in the 5K and 10K distances and placed third and fourth in those events at the 2013 Australian National Open Water Championships. As a student at St. Margaret Mary’s College, she received the Caltex All Rounder Award, recognizing her for her accomplishments in athletics, academics and community service.
She said the primary reason she selected Brenau was because she wanted to be “part of a team that encourages hard work, motivates everyone to achieve their best and has a great team spirit.”
“She leads by example, she has grit and she’s going to make things happen,” said Brenau athletics director Mike Lochstampfor. “She loves to compete and win, and that inspires everyone else on the team to achieve those same results.”
Hayward and the Golden Tigers next appear March 2-6 in the 2015-16 NAIA championship meet in Columbus. With plenty of top teams gunning for the crown, Hayward acknowledges the path to a national championship will be a difficult one. However, she said she’s a firm believer in the Golden Tigers’ talent and has high hopes heading into the NAIA nationals.
“I have no doubt that the team will put up good performances in our individual races and relays,” she said. “Everyone has worked hard all season, and the nationals is where we see how much that hard work has paid off."