Adam Peaty has the ability to inspire a resurgence in British swimming ahead of the 2016 Olympics, according to head coach Bill Furniss.
The 20-year-old collected his second world record last week as he became the first man in history to go below the 58-second threshold in the 100m breaststroke at the British Swimming Championships.
His time of 57.92 was 0.54 seconds quicker than Cameron van der Burgh clocked in the same pool at London 2012 and goes alongside the 26.62 record he claimed in the 50m at last year’s European Championships.
With the World Championships in Kazan to come later this year Peaty is now the one to beat and the signs are that he could become the first man since Adrian Moorhouse at Seoul 1988 to win Olympic gold in the pool.
But Furniss wants Britain to produce more world-conquering performances and thinks the example set by Peaty can help drive the sport forward.
“You need a leader in any sport and I don’t want to pin that on Adam but he is an example to everyone in Britain that we can do this.
“That’s the important thing there and it was interesting in the same race that Ross Murdoch came in on 59.1 which is a fast time but almost forgotten.
“It was a terrific performance by Murdoch but Adam’s race drags everyone up and I think if you look at our breaststroke at present, domestically you can never relax.
“That’s the way we want to be and the big swimming nations have that all the time and it’s so difficult.
“That is something that we have got to try to make work for us so that’s why I look at the depth of events.
“I’m trying to raise the bar to get people at this level so it’s a great performance from Adam but I’m hoping that it is the first of many for us over the next few years.
“We have got to believe that we can do it because if we don’t shoot for it then we will never get there.”
While Furniss was full of praise for Peaty he says there is still a lot of work to do before Britain’s swimmers are heading onto the world stage with golden aspirations.
But the British Championships saw a scramble as athletes desperately tried to clock qualification times for Russia.
There was a series of sensational swims for Jazmin Carlin who took 200m, 800m and 400m freestyle victories while Hannah Miley’s 4:32.16 in the 400m individual medley hit the standard and secured victory.
Benjamin Proud continued to impress with 50m butterfly victory as well as second place in the 100m freestyle.
Furniss wants his athletes to learn to thrive under the pressure of a competitive meet and believes the pressure-cooker environment will bring the best out of the country’s swimmers.
“You need people who have got a chance, you go to an Olympics or World Championships and you need to be top six in the world,” he added.
“It is quite interesting because the feel around poolside has been uncomfortable for them but I don’t mind that because I think we need to be comfortable at being uncomfortable.
“We need to create that environment as often as possible so our athletes practice it and we aren’t going to major games and get hit with something that is abnormal to them.
“We are trying to make this normal for them, it’s uncomfortable but we have to learn to deal with the environment and I’m pleased with how they have responded.
“We have had some guys who have not done what they should have done but you will get that and hopefully they can put that right for next season.
“We have set the bar very high and it’s easy to pick out someone like Adam Peaty but across the board we are starting to make an impact.”
© Sportsbeat 2015