Adam Peaty: British swimming's unstoppable force

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·3-min read
Britain's Adam Peaty dominates the men's 100m breaststroke event
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British swimming phenomenon Adam Peaty has redefined the meaning of dominance in a single event, recently holding all 20 of the fastest 100m breaststroke times in history.

The reigning Olympic champion had already secured his place at the Tokyo Games before the British selection trials in April.

But instead of taking it easy he exploded out of the blocks to set the fifth-fastest time in the event ever, winning in a time of 57.39 seconds.

That performance meant he had swum the top 20 fastest times in the 100m breaststroke, almost exactly six years after he first broke the 100m breaststroke world record at the 2015 British championships, though others have since edged onto that list.

Peaty, 26, became the first British male Olympic champion in the pool since 1988 at the 2016 Rio Games and also contributed to an impressive silver in the 4x100m medley relay.

He was given the Best Male Swimming Performance Award at those Olympics by swimming governing body FINA after he broke his existing world record in the heats and then again in the final.

His current world record of 56.88sec was set at the 2019 world championships in South Korea.

Peaty, who proudly sports a lion tattoo on his left shoulder, started to take swimming seriously at the age of 17 when he was preparing for a night out with friends and saw contemporary and breaststroker Craig Benson qualify for the Olympic semi-finals at London 2012.

"I was at a crossroads in my life when I decided to take swimming more seriously," he told the Times.

"I’d just done my GCSEs (school exams) and was about to get drunk in a field with my mates when I heard Craig Benson, an old friend from my junior years, had just made it to the semis at London 2012.

"I knew then that I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t give swimming my best try."

Peaty first emerged as a star in 2014 when, after winning three medals at the Commonwealth Games, he shone at the European Championships in Berlin to claim four gold medals and clinch the 50m breaststroke world record in the process.

But the man who has eight world championship golds, improbably admits he was scared of water as a child.

- Garden pool -

"I even hated having baths," he said. "I'd scream every time. My older brothers had told me sharks could swim through the plughole.

"My first memory of swimming was just trying not to drown."

Peaty had to put his Olympic ambitions on hold last year when coronavirus forced the postponement of the Games but he had a pool built in his garden so he could continue training during the strict lockdown.

In September he became a father for the first time when his son George-Anderson Adetola Peaty was born.

The British swimmer, who admits chocolate is his biggest weakness, puts his success down to a strong mental approach and is bringing out a book later this year entitled "The Gladiator Mindset".

"What I've realised in the last few years is that sport isn't against anyone else, it’s what you can do in your mind," he told the Olympic Channel.

"Courage, integrity, belief -- that's what I’ve got tattooed on my inner forearm. They are my three staples of life that I go by.

"Once you can control your inner energy, you really know how to unload that energy into a race."

Peaty has one eye on Tokyo but another on his place in the annals of the sport.

"I want to set a legacy and hopefully that will stand the test of time," he said.


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