Queensland Resident Wins Multiple ‘All-American’ Titles in Her First U.S. Collegiate Swimming Season

Courtney Hayward

Brenau’s Courtney Hayward, center, chats with relay teammate Michelle Billeaud as freshman Talia Sola from Madrid, Spain, looks on.

Courtney Jane Hayward from Townsville, Queensland, Australia, recently completed her first collegiate swimming season at Brenau University, a small, private Georgia institution in the southeastern United States. She led her Golden Tigers team to a fourth-place finish in national rankings and personally won two U.S. championships and was a close runner-up for a third.

Her performance earned her the first “All-American” status in swimming for Brenau in 30 years.

Brenau, which has  slightly more than 2,800 students, including the 880 in its 135-year-old Women’s College, competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the U.S. governing organization for sports competition involving smaller colleges and universities.  Although Brenau is coeducational outside of the Women’s College, its 10 intercollegiate teams are only for women.

Hayward, the daughter of Narelle and Peter Hayward of Townsville, graduated in 2013 from St. Margaret Mary’s College near her home. There she won five Queensland titles in the 5K and 10K distances and placed 3rd and 4th in those events at the Australian National Open Water Championships. In the recent NAIA 2014 Swimming & Diving National Championship meet in Oklahoma City, she won the U.S. title in the 500-yard freestyle event Thursday, March 6, then followed the next day with her second individual national championship Friday, March 7, with a come-from-behind win in the in the 400-yard individual medley.

The Brenau freshman also anchored the Golden Tigers relay team in its impressive second-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay just behind Oklahoma Baptist University, which at the end of the meet would have its second consecutive national championship.  In addition, Hayward placed second in a longer-distance race, the 1,650-yard freestyle. In addition to winning the “All-American” status for herself in the individual races, she helped the other members of the relay team gain the accolade as well.

“We were expecting good things from Courtney and she has delivered,” said Blaire Bachman, the head swimming coach at Brenau. “She will only get better and better in her next three seasons on the team.”

Brenau University is located in Gainesville, which is about 50 miles north of Atlanta, host of the 1996 Olympic Games. Although none of the swimming events occurred in the community, located on Lake Lanier, Gainesville was the site of the rowing events.

Brenau, founded in 1878 as a female seminary, has had coeducational undergraduate and graduate programs since the 1990s, but has preserved the undergraduate residential Women’s College – one of fewer than 50 women’s colleges remaining in the United States. Hayward plans to study psychology at the university.

Brenau University President Ed Schrader, who ironically had a brief stopover at the Brisbane airport on the day that Hayward won her first U.S. championship race, said that the size of the institution with its emphasis on academics will enable the young Australian to flourish in the classroom as well as in the pool.

“Certainly we are justly proud of what Courtney has accomplished as a swimmer in just a few short months,” said Schrader. “But her record as a student was also a major factor in our decision to recruit her to come to Brenau.”

At St. Margaret Mary’s,  Hayward was awarded the Caltex All Rounder Award, recognizing her excellence in academics, leadership, sporting and community service activities.

Meanwhile, Brenau continues to fish in Queensland pools. Last month the university announced that it has signed Australia’s 2013 national high school 400 -meter freestyle bronze medalist, who signed a letter of intent to attend Brenau University and swim for the No. 4 nationally ranked Golden Tigers in the 2014-15 season. Ella Kleinschmidt, who is from Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, is the daughter of Alinda and Jon Kleinschmidt. She intends to pursue a degree in elementary/early childhood education. She currently attends Fraser Coast Anglican College.

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