Different Strokes: Record-Setting Loyola Swimmer Lacing Up With Mount St. Mary's

PHOTO COURTESY OF LOYOLA ATHLETICS

To cap his Loyola career, Jimmy Hayburn won the Patriot League 200-free relay and helped the Loyola men finish fourth in conference.


Jimmy Hayburn cheered and hollered at teammate Reid Hussey as he closed the last 10 meters of a 200-freestyle relay team that was headed toward history on Feb. 18. Hussey touched the wall at 1:19:05, sealing Loyola swimming’s first Patriot League relay title in school history.

Hayburn, the senior who chose to follow his sister to Loyola over offers from other schools for swimming and plenty of others for lacrosse, left the program in better shape than when he entered it as a freshman out of St. Mary’s (Md.) in 2018.

“When I got there, we were sixth or seventh in conference,” he said. “We built that program into something special. I walked away a two-time conference champion and competed in the U.S. Open. Now, it’s passing the torch to the younger guys.”

After completing a successful swimming career that included a school record and Patriot League title in the 50-free, Hayburn had options for his next move. He had a position working at Northrup Grumman coming up that summer. He thought about a career in the military after taking part in Loyola’s Army ROTC program.

But something about lacrosse still intrigued him. He had offers from several Division I schools, and equipped with an extra year of eligibility thanks to COVID-19, he entertained the possibility of picking up a stick for the first time in years.

In a world where lacrosse stars like Pat Spencer and Jared Bernhardt were using extra eligibility to pursue other passions, Hayburn had the chance to do the same. A chance meeting with Spencer — whose brother, Cam, he had befriended at Loyola — may have helped sway Hayburn.

“I was still in the middle of the decision process when I got to talk to Pat,” he said. “He was like, ‘You have the rest of your life to join the workforce, and then you're into retirement. You only have a few special years to really compete as an athlete.’”
  
Hayburn wasn’t ready for his college athletics career to be over, and he wanted to leave another program better than he found it. After meeting with Tom Gravante at Mount St. Mary’s (who had recruited him out of high school), he was sold on his future home.

The former physically imposing attackman from St. Mary’s (Md.) stood out on tape in 2018, and now he heads to Emmitsburg, Md., with four years of college athletics experience — just in the water and not on the field.

By late July, Hayburn started hitting the wall.

“It’s like returning to a lost love,” he said. “I hadn’t done the wall ball, the stick work and the shooting in years. It was fun to return to something that I’ve been blessed to be a part of. The draw with the Mount was there, and the philosophy of family values is something I can understand.”

It came as no surprise that Hayburn was initially recruited by Division I lacrosse schools. He was 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds as a junior from Bowie, Md. College coaches saw an athlete who balanced his blossoming career with his faith and his studies, working from 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. each day to make sure he succeeded. Even in high school, he was readying for the challenge of balancing multiple endeavors.

Navy, Georgetown and Mount St. Mary’s showed interest, but he felt a pull from swimming, which has played an integral role in his family.







Hayburn’s mother, Theresa, was a swimmer at Villanova and later coached at Maryland. His sister, Anna, was already a successful swimmer at Loyola. His brothers, Patrick and Joe, were swimmers and eventually headed to the Greyhounds, too.

“I tried to do both [sports] at the Division I level, as I did in high school, but it didn’t quite work out because the seasons overlapped between February and March,” he said. “Scholarship-wise, swimming worked well and was very financially strong for my family. With my sister being there, family played a big role. I also saw an opportunity to build something, and that was a draw for me on the leadership side.”

Hayburn was part of two record-setting relays his freshman year. He won the Patriot League title with a school record 50-free (19.99 seconds) and contributed to five other school records his sophomore year. He finished runner-up in the 50-free and 100-free at the Patriot League Challenge as a junior. To cap his Loyola career, Hayburn won the Patriot League 200-free relay and helped the Loyola men finish fourth in conference.

All the while, Hayburn, whose father and grandfather served in the military, completed Loyola’s Army ROTC program. He also helped introduce children in Baltimore to the pool through the Junior Hounds program. He had a passion for giving back and managed to balance that with his swimming regime.

“What I learned from Loyola were principles of time management, how to be organized and disciplined and mental strength,” he said. “Playing both sports gave me an advantage.”

Hayburn’s teammates began careers in engineering, medicine and the Navy SEALS, but he felt he had unfinished business in college athletics. He wanted to get his Master’s in business and pondered whether lacrosse could be a fit at his next school.

He brought his mother and brothers, Patrick and Lucas, with him to meet with Gravante July and agreed to join the Mountaineers for the 2023 lacrosse season.

In two months, Hayburn had to get reacquainted with a sport that occupied plenty of his time while he was a teenager. He hit the wall as much as he could and worked on his stickwork in preparation for the fall.

He also had to adjust his training regime, which focused on core strength during the swimming season. He hit the weight room, looking to be more explosive and put less strain on his shoulders, which he used to his advantage in swimming.

The adjustment process is ongoing, but Hayburn is excited for a new challenge. Although he expects to start his career in business after the spring season, he hasn’t ruled out trying to go pro in another sport. Could he follow along the lines of Spencer and Bernhardt come next summer?

“I'm always open to continuing competing,” he said. “I will never close the door on that area. I have a real thrill for it.”

Correction: An earlier edition of the story claimed that Hayburn was the only Loyola athlete to participate in both athletics and ROTC at the same time. We have learned that is not true and have updated the story accordingly.

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