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Swimming

Tokyo Olympics: Adam Peaty - A lethal combination of power and conviction

The incredible Adam Peaty will be the centre of attention once again in the pools of Tokyo

Adam Peaty is expected to be at his best at Tokyo 2020
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Adam Peaty is expected to be at his godlike best at Tokyo 2020 [Source: Olympics]

By

Madhusudan Rangu

Updated: 2021-07-24T14:52:48+05:30

When you are the greatest in your sport but reckon that your best is yet to arrive, the signs can naturally be very ominous for your rivals.

And when the athlete, who reckons his greatest moment is in front of him instead of behind him, is Adam Peaty, then fans and competitors alike might as well just believe him.

Great Britain's biggest hope of a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the son of a bricklayer from Uttoxeter has gone on to become swimming's answer to boxing. Adam Peaty doesn't believe in defeating his opponents. He prefers decimating them instead.

The numbers, the titles, the victories, and their margins prove beyond doubt that Adam Peaty is the Mike Tyson of swimming in his events: 50m breaststroke and 100m breaststroke.

Humble Beginnings

Adam Peaty as a kid [Source: BBC]

As an infant and in his formative years, Peaty developed an acute fear of water when his elder brothers warned him of sharks peeking through the plugholes of his bathtub.

centerThe fear vanished soon though as he took his first swimming lessons. The teenager took to the sport seriously only at age 17 when one of his close mates in the junior circuit Craig Benson reached the semi-final of the London Olympics.

Peaty started training at the City of Derby swimming club in 2009 where he was coached by Olympic swimmer Melanie Marshall. He also trained up to eight times per week at Repton school in the village of Repton Derbyshire and two sessions at Loughborough. Peaty started to train full-time at Loughborough University in 2017.

Signs of Greatness

The 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow was the first long course swimming meet that showcased Peaty's ability and class in front of the aquatic world. Barely out of his teens, he finished second to the then Olympic and World Champion from South Africa Cameron Van Der Burgh in the 50m breaststroke.

He went one better in the longer breaststroke sprint of 100m clocking 58.94 seconds - 0.34 seconds faster than Van Der Burgh. Peaty set Commonwealth records in the Heats, Semis, and the Finals.

Confirmation of a change of guard in the breaststroke sprints happened at the European Swimming Championships the same year, with the Englishman winning golds in the 50m as well as 100m breaststroke and the two medley relays. En route to the 50m Gold, Peaty set a World Record of 26.62 seconds.

2015 – The Rise Continues

2015 saw Peaty's rise continue unabated as he smashed the World Record in the 100m breaststroke at the British Championships and World Trials by almost half a second. His time of 57.92 seconds made him the first man to go under 58 seconds for the event. He qualified for all three breaststroke events at the 2015 World Aquatic Championships as well.

And it was in this competition that Peaty became a World Champion for the very first time.

After defeating Van Der Burgh in the 100m breast, Peaty set sights on the 50m breast. After Van Der Burgh broke Peaty's World Record in the heats, the Englishman turned the tables by breaking the South African's World Record by clocking an eye-popping 26.42 seconds in the semis before winning the finals.

A Monumental 2016

The 2016 European Championships, held in London, saw Peaty retain both of his individual titles in the 50m breaststroke and the 100m breaststroke, sharing the podium with his teammate Ross Murdoch on both occasions. He also retained both of his relay titles winning the 4×100m Medley Relay with Walker-Hebborn, Guy, and Duncan Scott, and the mixed 4×100m Medley Relay with Walker-Hebborn, O'Connor, and Halsall.

No World Records Broken – A Surprise


Normal service resumed at the Rio Olympics and with the 50m breaststroke not being an Olympic swimming event, the 100m breaststroke saw Peaty on fire.

In the heats, Peaty broke his own world record with a time of 57.55 seconds. He then won his semi-final and went on to win the final, breaking his own World Record that he had set in the heats and winning Team Great Britain's first gold medal of the 2016 Olympics.

The winning time was 57.13 seconds but Peaty was just getting started.

Peaty stole the limelight from Olympic Legend Michael Phelps in the last race of his Olympic career [Source: SwimSwam]

The 4x100m medley at these Olympics had a lot of significance attached to it. It was Michael Phelps' last race and naturally, all of the focus was on the American quartet. But of course, a certain Brit had other ideas to put himself and his team at the center of attention.

America's champion back-stroke swimmer Ryan Murphy set out with the sole objective of giving his teammate Cody Miller as much of a lead as possible with Peaty swimming the second leg for Great Britain.

When Peaty commenced his leg of the Medley Relay, Great Britain was almost at the back end of the eight-team race.

56.59 seconds later, they had a lead in the race. Peaty's stroke rate and kicking power had to be seen to be believed. Mesmerizing and exhausting to watch at the same time, this was the fastest breaststroke split ever recorded.

An Olympic giant was born in Rio

At the 2017 World Aquatics Championships, Peaty retained his 100m breaststroke title. After easily winning his heat and semi-final races, he won the final with a championship record of 57.47 seconds.

Peaty also broke his own World Record twice in the 50m breaststroke. He clocked 26.10 seconds in the heats, and in the semi-final, he became the first man to break the 26 seconds record and won in 25.95. He successfully defended his 50m breaststroke title with another sub-26 time of 25.99 seconds in the final.

The following couple of years saw Peaty continue to set new World Records in the 100m breaststroke category which currently stands at 56.88 seconds. This outlandish mark was set at the 2019 Gwangju World Championships. No one else had even touched 58 seconds until that point.

Life outside the Pool

Adam Peaty has a child with his girlfriend Eirianedd Munro [Source: Instagram @eirimunro]

Peaty found love besides the pool when he met his girlfriend Eirianedd Munro who is half Welsh and half Nigerian. The couple were blessed with a boy in late 2020 and Peaty seems to be a different person now.

Being an Olympic athlete and an influential figure in the British team, he is now pretty vocal on issues as diverse as fatherhood, racial discrimination as well as the pros and cons of hosting the Olympics controversially during a pandemic.

What does 2021 hold for Adam Peaty?


Adam Peaty's godlike status in the pool was confirmed in April when, at the British trials, he swam the 100m breaststroke in 57.39 seconds.

While it was not close to his world record of 56.88 seconds, this swim meant that he had recorded the 20 fastest times in history. Peaty followed it up a week later by winning four gold medals at the European championships.

What does Tokyo have in store for him or should we ask what does he have in store for the chasing field?

Let's peruse some statistics:

Rank Time Name YoB Team Club Meet Name

1 56.88 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No 18th FINA World Championships 2019

2 57.10 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No European Championships 2018

3 57.13 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No Olympic Games Rio 2016

4 57.14 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No 18th FINA World Championships 2019

5 57.39 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR Yes British National Swimming Championships (50m)

6 57.47 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No 17th FINA World Championships 2017

7 57.55 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No Olympic Games Rio 2016

8 57.59 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No 18th FINA World Championships 2019

9 57.62 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No Olympic Games Rio 2016

10 57.66 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No European Championships 2021

11 57.67 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No European Championships 2021

12 57.70 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR Yes British National Swimming Championships (50m)

13 57.75 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No 17th FINA World Championships 2017

14 57.79 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No British Championships 2017

15 57.87 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR Yes British Swimming Championships (50m)

16 57.89 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No European Championships 2018

17 57.92 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No British Swimming Championships 2015

18 58.04 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR No European Championships 2018

19 58.10 KAMMINGA Arno 1995 NED No European Championships 2021

20 58.13 PEATY Adam 1994 GBR Yes Edinburgh International Swim Meet

Peaty holds 19 out of the 20 fastest times ever recorded in the 100 m breaststroke. Prior to the European Championships, he owned all of the Top-20 times. We'll let you decipher the monstrosity of it.

Although Peaty is still untouchable with a PB of 56.88, Dutchman Amo Kamminga has made rapid strides over the past couple of years, culminating in a monster result of 57.90 seconds this May at The Dutch National Team time trial.

That rendered the 24-year-old as the second-best performer of all time and the only other man besides Peaty to secure under 58 seconds. He will be the front-runner to chase down the Brit in a few days from now.

Kamminga will be making his Olympic debut in Tokyo. He clocked 58.10 seconds in this year's European Swimming championships behind Peaty's 57.66 seconds. We must remind you that it is, in fact, a very significant achievement to finish just 0.44 seconds behind the aquatic monster that is Adam Peaty. Maybe there is something here to look at after all.

The chasing pack is crowding the 58 to 59 second times. The World junior record holder Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy, recently clocked a time of 58.29 at the Sette Colli in June. That inches him closer to the 58-second barrier, which is where the minor medal winners in Tokyo very well may end up.

Joining him in that territory is American Michael Andrew who broke his country's national record at the U.S. Olympic Trials with 58.14s. Andrew enters the Olympics ranked third in the world.

The sub-59 cluster gets crowded with Americans Nic Fink and Andrew Wilson, Belarusian Shyamanovich, and Russian Anton Chupkov throwing their hats into the ring. China's Yan Zibei and Peaty's teammate James Wilby, Silver and Bronze medalists respectively at the 2019 Worlds are close too with their own sub-59 timings.

All things being equal, the Men's 100m breaststroke could be two races within a single one: Peaty chasing Project 56 and Kamminga and the rest chasing Project 58.

26th July 2021 shall provide all the answers and may well turn out to be a turning point in the history of Men's breaststroke swimming.

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