Adam Peaty admitted he needed to channel every ounce of mental strength to see off a stacked 200m breaststroke field on the opening day of the British Swimming Championships at the London Aquatics Centre.
World record holder Peaty clocked 2:08.34 minutes to hold off the challenge of Andrew Willis who was 0.25 seconds behind in second while Ross Murdoch took bronze in 2:08.90.
It was a fitting way to bring the curtain down on an enthralling start to the Championships with the European 100m champion storming from behind on the final length to take the title from Willis.
The 20-year-old is no stranger to success after a stellar 2014 and said he tapped into his increasing fountain of experience as he pushed hard for the wall.
“That back end I thought to myself I’ve done this a thousand times in training, I’ve done it a thousand times with that level of lactic acid, so I just kept going and it paid off,” Peaty said.
“For me I just stayed relaxed throughout the whole race, I stayed with the pack and then that last 50m I turned on that red light that gets me going, gets the adrenaline going and that carried me home.
“My red light is just all the things that make you angry, all the things you haven’t achieved yet and that absolutely carries me home, you feel no pain when it comes on.
“You can’t choose when it comes on – the crowd chooses, and they brought me home.
“I’m not going to put too much expectation on myself for the other events, I ended last season at 58.6 (for 100m), but it’s all about starting again. It’s a new meet, it’s a new opportunity and I’m going to see what I can get.”
In the women's 100m freestyle Siobhan-Marie O'Connor produced a sensational race to take the title away from Fran Halsall in 53.83 seconds.
The pair battled it out for the entire race but it the end it was O'Connor who came out on top with Lauren Quigley taking third and Rebecca Turner narrowly missing out on the podium spots.
Meanwhile, in the women's 200m butterfly there was gold for Hannah Miley who posted 2:08.63 minutes on her way to victory, with Jemma Lowe 0.73 seconds back and Aimee Willmott more than a second slower in third.
“I shocked myself just as much as I shocked everyone else with that win I think,” said Miley.
“I actually haven’t been the podium for the 200m butterfly since 2009 so it’s nice to be able to see that progress.
“The time I just swam was so much quicker than my time at Commonwealths but I just don’t want to peak too soon – I want to be at my best in the summer and I’m going to get back into training and try to do that.”
And in the men's 100m backstroke Chris Walker-Hebborn managed to storm to victory over his long-term rival Liam Tancock to take gold in 52.88 – Tancock 1.10 seconds back with silver.
“I surprised myself going out a bit because I knew there was more there and my coach goes off the idea of high risk, high reward so I went out and paid the price a little bit at the 75m mark but managed to hold on,” said Walker-Hebborn.
“I saw Liam (Tancock) coming back at me and I just wanted to hold on so I was happy to dip under 53 seconds and make the time.
“I’ve been racing Liam since I was a little kid and he’s an absolute role model for me – he’s always professional and it’s great to talk to him and race against him.
“I’m always very nervous when I race him because I’ve got no idea what he’s capable of. I was worried there for a moment but now I’m buzzing – it’s a big relief to win in the end.”
© Sportsbeat 2015