Adam Peaty laid down a marker as he smashed the world record in the 100m breaststroke becoming the first man to swim under 57 seconds.
After becoming Olympic champion in Rio in 2016, Peaty set about his Project 56 the next year and he has now achieved it a year out from Tokyo in the semi-finals of the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju.
The 24-year-old touched home in 56.88 seconds, and has a buffer of nearly two seconds over his closest rival heading into the final. He could become the first swimmer ever to win three consecutive world titles over 100m breaststroke, where he is the only person to have broken 58 seconds, let alone 57.
Peaty said: “It feels incredible! I’ve been chasing that for three years now ever since I touched the wall in Rio I knew I could go faster. I said this morning I wasn’t going to chase 56, I was going to let it come to me, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
“I’ve used all the team around me and have some great support staff at British Swimming, so a massive, massive thanks to them, especially Mel who’s been there for 10 years, so it’s a very special journey that we’ve had.
“But there’s still a job to do tomorrow. I’ve come here to win a World title and that’s tomorrow and that’s still my main focus, so this was just a bonus and I’ll use this energy tomorrow.”
Peaty will be joined in that final by James Wilby who qualified third fastest in a time of 58.83 and will be looking to secure a first world medal after earning silver behind Peaty in the 100m breaststroke at both the European Championships and Commonwealth Games last year.
Great Britain missed out on a medal in the men’s 4x100m relay however, the team of Duncan Scott, James Guy, Ben Proud and Scott McLay coming home in fifth in the event won by the USA.
Earlier in the evening Proud had qualified seventh fastest for the final of the 50m butterfly, the event in which he is the defending world champion.
Proud touched home in 23.14, but will have to beat America’s Caeleb Dressel, the fastest qualifier, if he is to retain his title.
Elsewhere, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor got through to the final of the 200m individual medley with the seventh fastest time, going 2:10.49.