How Adam Peaty is staying on top of the world
Swimming

How Adam Peaty is staying on top of the world

29 July 2017 / 07:30

How can you stay motivated when you’re so far ahead of the rest of the field that every race is a formality?

It’s a question very few have to contemplate – at the World Swimming Championships in Budapest it’s true of arguably the sport's biggest star Katie Ledecky, in the distance freestyle, home town hero Katinka Hosszu, in the individual medley if not the entirety of her multitude of races, and of course Adam Peaty.

Now the holder of the 11 fastest 100m breaststroke times ever, over half a second quicker than anyone else in history over 50m and unbeaten in major competition since 2014, Peaty has become so dominant that his rivals now believe he is swimming a different stroke to the rest.

In the space of three years he has won every major title on offer, broken world record after world record and even emerged as an unlikely Sports Personality of the Year contender – 55 years on from Anita Lonsbrough – the last swimmer to win the award.

If there were any thoughts that he might rest on his laurels after becoming Olympic champion last year, they were swiftly put to bed here as he cruised to his fourth and fifth world titles.

And for Peaty, who calls on former England football sports psychologist Bill Beswick for periodic advice, a simple click is all he needs.

“Bill just says things that make me click. All I need is one click per race and I’m away,” said Peaty.

“I only catch up with him every six months, three months. Every time I see him – I just saw him before this – and he was like ‘well done, keep it going’.

“It’s all about moving forwards for me. I don’t really look behind and look at what I’ve done. I’m always on to the next thing. How do I improve that performance now?

“I don’t know who it came from, but it came from a footballer, someone (Bill) worked with a few years ago... he says ‘win again, win again and win with class’. If you can do that it makes it a little bit easier to think about.

“That’s the kind of curve now that I want to go on. It’s not difficult, but it’s very different going into a race when you’re one and a half seconds, two seconds up on everyone else.

“You race yourself in a sense, but you’ve still got to be aware of what everyone else is doing. My technique’s a little bit different to everyone else. If they want to copy my stroke, so be it. But a copy, as I’ve always said, is never as good as the genuine thing.”

Peaty is the leader of a new generation of British swimmers, with the team clearly on the rise after the disasters of the London Olympics and Barcelona World Championships when they managed just one silver medal and three bronzes across the two events.

While Ben Proud has picked up the only other medal after five days of action – winning gold in the 50m butterfly – the number of final appearances and medal contenders bodes well for Tokyo in three years’ time.

By virtue of his discipline, Peaty will have to adjust his programme – the 50m breaststroke is not an Olympic event – and it appears his much talked about shift to the 200m could happen as early as 2018.

A move to the National Training Centre in Loughborough has helped in that regard. It seems remarkable that Peaty wasn’t training at full capacity in the build-up to Rio, but that is what the 22-year-old revealed.

He added: “Ever since I moved to Loughborough, in the National Centre with British Swimming, it’s been incredible.

“Every day I’ve found that extra gain. Whereas before Rio, there were some days where I wasn’t 100 per cent.

“Some days I was travelling too much. I live ten minutes from the pool now. It’s great to have that positive image with them. Hopefully that centre is going to be a real force in Tokyo.”

For now Peaty still has a 4x100m medley relay to focus on, with heats and final taking place on Sunday.

Last year in Rio the Brits took silver, and while the Americans look as untouchable as ever, a repeat of second is still very much achievable.

What will follow? Winning again, winning again and winning with class.

Sportsbeat 2017

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