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Swimming: Adam Peaty wants to reach new heights in Budapest

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British swimming had been waiting for the next Olympic gold medal since 1988, Seoul – and Adam Peaty finally delivered it at the Rio Games by winning the 100m breaststroke final with a new World Record. He was thankful for the Royal Family after the final and of course for his biggest fan, his grandmother. He is a really proud Briton, a workaholic, professional athlete who performs 100 or even 110 percent every time; even though he actually had a fear of water as a young boy. The 23-year-old ‘king of the breaststroke’ holds three World Records, but is still working on a new mission, called ‘Project 56’. Adam Peaty can be one of the biggest stars of the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest.

‘Oh, my Goodness’ – said Melanie Marshall when she watched the ‘little’ Adam’s  freesytle swimming at the local pool in Derby. However, the two-time Olympian trainer, short course World bronze medallist (Machester) soon changed her opinion as she saw Peaty practising breaststroke in the water.

‘I knew from the first moment that he has something special, he has ability to perform on a very high level’– declared Marshall (who is still only 35 years old) many times, adding that the key of his success is his mentality and the fact that Adam Peaty always fires on 100 or 110 per cent.

‘She’s my mentor, coach and friend, so she obviously has a lot to offer. I find that the bigger the arena the faster I get, I definitely enjoy the crowds. I just love racing and being the best in the world’ – said Peaty about their common passion in an interview.

Adam was not always a fan of swimming pools, as a kid he even used to escape from the bath.

‘Every time he was put in the bath tub, he screamed and did not want to stay there’ – Peaty’s grandmother, Mavis Williams said to BBC. Mavies - who is on Twitter as @OlympicNan - was really a popular social media hero during the Olympic Games last year.

So, the youngest boy of the family from Uttoxeder did not fancy the local pool at first, but his attitude changed after a special visit from a friend of his mum. As fate is so curious, years later the pool of the town shall be named after him... 

The British swimmer’s spectacular career has always been strongly supported by his parents. It was not a surprise therefore when Adam thanked and highlighted them in the post-race interview in Rio de Janeiro.

His mother, who worked as a nurse used to take him to practise (his father, Mark does not drive). Soon however, Adam started to go by walk and it changed his lifestyle. As a youngster, besides Derby he used to swim in Repton and in Loughborough as well.

Adam, simply nicknamed, ‘The Gladiator’, compares himself and his training method to that of Rocky Balboa. He and his coach always set out new goals and raise the bets to be stronger and stronger.

Peaty ‘s first major international competition was the Course European Short Course Championships in Herning (2013), where he broke no less than three personal records. One year later he shined in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games, too. While he was beaten by South African Cameron van der Burgh over 50m (the time difference was just 0.02 sec), he won the final of the 100m breaststroke event.. In Glasgow he was also member of the triumphant British 4x100m medley relay also, wrapping up this event with 2 gold and 1 silver medal – and he was still only 19 years old.

Just three weeks later, he raised the bar once again by winning the 50 and the 100m breatstroke events and the two relays at the European Championships in Berlin. Moreover, he finished the event with two World Records. During the heats of the 50m breatstroke he swam 26:62, while the British team reached the gold with 3:44.02 in the mixed relay event.

In 2015 therefore, he arrived in Kazan for the World Championships as the main gold pretender of these events. Especially, owing to his new World Record set during the British National Championships over 100m, 57:13. He made history with this time, being the first man who went below 57 seconds on 100m breaststroke.

In Kazan he won two breaststroke finals (50 and 100m) in memorable battles with Cameron van der Burgh. To complete the GB tally, the British team won the gold medal in the mixed relay with Adam Peaty, setting up a new World Record (3:41.71) once again. (The other members of the team were Chris Walker-Hebborn, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Francesca Halsall.)

Before the Rio Games, Adam Peaty was able to show his exceptional performance in front of home crowds at the European Championships in London by winning no less than forur gold medals.  

History repeated itself in Rio: just like the last British Olympic gold medallist swimmer, Adam Moorhouse did in Seoul, Peaty also won the 100m breaststroke in Rio. Of course, there is a big difference between the winning times: Moorhouse won the race with 1:02.04 (beating Károly Güttler of Hungary by just 0.01 sec).

So, Adam Peaty broke the 28-year-long silence on the top of the podium in swimming for Great Britain, his victory however did not come as a surprise after the new World Record (57:55) he already set during the semi-finals. His mother, Caroline watched his son on the spot, embarking on her first ever flight to be able to cheer on her son in Brazil. The 13-hour-long journey was worth it for sure to see Adam reaching another World Record in the final (57:13), beating the great opponent,  Cameron van der Burgh by 1,5 second!

FINA awarded this achievement as the best single performance of the year 2016.

‘It’s amazing, as you train for seven, eight years to reach this moment, you know it’s a long time to concentrate for one goal, and then there you are just doing it’ – said Peaty, who was even praised by Michael Phelps:

‘After the relay we were waiting in the room for the medals and he rolled in and said he could not actually believe I went that fast. That was pretty cool.’ – recounted Adam.

It is indisputable that Adam Peaty is the king of the breaststroke over 100, but what about the 200m event? Earlier Peaty spoke to the FINA Aquatics World Magazine about Kosuke Kitajima, the Japanese legend winning both the 100 and 200m finals in Athens and Beijing. 

‘That’s exactly what I want to achieve’ said Peaty. ‘But it’s a lot easier said than done. I think if we put our minds right and we’re focused on our own strength, which is my speed – I’m a big guy compared to many breaststrokers – it is possible. It’s four years of trial and error [in the 200m], I have no idea what works for me, what doesn’t work for me, where as in the 100m I already know exactly how to swim and win” – explained Peaty in the interview.

For sure, Peaty is ready to repeat triumph over 100m: their new target time with Coach Melanie Marshall is 56 seconds. The mission is therefore named ‘Project 56’.

‘Obviously when you go 56 in the relay and 57.1 in the individual event, you know a lot of people are wanting you to go 56 individually, too. That’s already two seconds ahead of the rest of the field – which is a really big gap- but I think it is actually achievable. I am just going to train my hardest and hopefully I’ll get it done one day. I definitely think I can – 56 felt relatively easier than the 57. I had already prepared my mind for what we will do next season. It is the start of the Olympic cycle again now so I can reset myself and get to that peak performance once again in Tokyo’ – said Peaty.

How will the British Gladiator perform in Budapest this July? Well, the heats of the 100m breaststroke event start right away on the first competition day of the swimming programme (July 23), while the final will be held on July 24. Heats of the 50m breaststroke event will take place on the next day (July 25), while the final on the 26th. The swimmers qualified for the 200m breaststroke final will race on July 28. The last day of the 17th FINA World Championships will see the 4x100m medley relay event, but in the mixed relay everything will be decided on July 26.

Adam Peaty (Great-Brittain)

Born: Uttoxeter (Staffordshire, England), December 25, 1994
Coach: Melanie Marshall
Main results: Olympic Champion (2016, Rio – 100m breaststroke), World Champion (2015, Kazan – 50, 100 m breaststroke, 4x100m mixed relay), European Champion (2014, Berlin - 50, 100m breaststroke, 4x100m medley relay, 4x50m mixed relay; 2016, London – 50, 100m breaststroke, 4x100m medley relay, 4x50m mixed relay)
World record holder: 50m breaststroke (2014, Berlin, in the semi-final – 26:62), 100m breaststroke (2016, Rio de Janeiro – 57.13), 4x100m mixed relay (2015, Kazan – 3:41.71)

(Photo credits: Adam Peaty/Facebook, kazan2015.com/R-Sport, Mia Rossiya Segodnya, Georgie Kerr, fina.org)