Adam Peaty Goes 58.78 In Morning Finals On His Racing Return At McCullagh International [RACE VIDEO]

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Adam Peaty treated the crowd at the Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Centre to a performance only he and 2012 champion Cameron van der Burgh have bettered in Olympic waters as he won the McCullagh International title in 58.78.

Out in 27.42 and back in 31.36, the Olympic champion cut 0.02secs from the time he set in heats on Thursday evening with the meet in Bangor, Northern Ireland, holding finals in the morning, mirroring the schedule in Tokyo in July.

James Wilby, who won silver behind Peaty at last year’s World Championships, was second in 59.91 with Ross Murdoch third in 1:00.54.

Duncan Scott won the 100 free in 48.86 while Aimee Willmott, Mona McSharry, Max Litchfield and Dan Jervis were among others who made their way to the top step of the podium with Siobhan O’Connor and Sarah Vasey sharing it in the 100m breaststroke.

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Adam Peaty – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Such is Peaty’s domination, a silent question hangs over each and every pool whenever he takes to the blocks – “what is he going to do?”

The eight-time world champion was greeted with loud cheers when he purposefully strode to his blocks followed by silence as he moved into the final metres of the race, all eyes turning to the scoreboard to the right of the pool as he touched.

Peaty has recently returned from a five-week training block in Australia with coach Mel Marshall during which he has stripped and reconstructed his dive.

The world record-holder drew great satisfaction from his performance in his first long-course competition since the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, last July and first since the International Swimming League final in Las Vegas in December.

He told Swimming World:

“There is probably 0.2 in it – probably a 58.5 – and there is a massive difference between a 58 high and a 58 low.

“I am coming up at 16 metres now (following his dive), rather than at 14, and when the legs are rested hopefully I can glide through. I’m a higher weight than I normally am in racing so I mean I struggle to do 58 high towards the end of the season before a big meet like the worlds or Olympics so to do that already is really good.

“I haven’t raced since worlds so I am building that confidence down the first 50, trying to see what it’s like on the last 50 because I got so used to short-course where it’s very different.

“Obviously add that into the mix with morning finals and a lot of people went slower, some nudged faster this morning but I think it does have a massive impact on the way you prepare.

“That’s what we are already doing, we’re already testing things for Tokyo and trying to get ahead of the curve.”

He added:

“For me it’s not about times here, it’s more about giving myself the confidence long course, seeing exactly where I’m at because if I didn’t race now, I wouldn’t know exactly where I’m at in February.

“More than anything I just needed a boost, almost a reality check to see where I’m at and I’m more than happy with that.

“I think if I came to this meet and said 58.9 and 58.7 back to back and get faster in the morning, I’d be very happy.

Looking forward to the 50 now and the 200 to see where my stamina is at, see where the sprint’s at.”

The 25-year-old will return to the pool on Friday evening to tackle the 200m heats, his first serious tilt over four lengths since 2016 Olympic trials.

He said: “(I am approaching it) more serious. I am going to actually compete in it so just see where I am. I thought because there’s such a big gap between the 100 and the 50 I thought I might as well train through it.”

Scott Speedy Morning, Noon and Night

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Duncan Scott – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Scott also lowered his heat time in the 100 free, cutting 0.25secs, going out in 23.44 and back in 25.42 to lead home Irish record-holder Shane Ryan (49.92) and Bangor swimmer Jack McMillan in 49.97.

It came days after his 48.53 blast at the BUCS Nationals and hints at a very speedy Olympic year to come.

The University of Stirling swimmer told Swimming World:

“It doesn’t really matter what time of day it is: you should always be able to swim fast. That’s something I tried at Europeans (2019 European Short-Course Championships) and stuff so that’s not really a problem.

“I think I’d be happy with that if I didn’t swim as fast last week. It’s quite tough: back-to-back racing, something I’m used to but it’s alright.

“I was hurting a little bit on that back 50: trying out something different, new, but it was good. I was quite happy with that.”

Willmott Leads Off The Action With IM Victory

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Willmott led from start to finish to win the 400IM in 4:39.63, 0.02secs slower than her heat time of Thursday evening.

The University of Stirling swimmer went through the first 100 in 1:04.76, 0.41secs ahead of Hannah Miley, in second with 16-year-old Katie Shanahan a further 0.37 adrift.

That was the closest any of them got to the reigning Commonwealth champion who pulled away on backstroke, turning at the halfway point of the race 2.98secs ahead of Miley with the gap extended to almost five seconds after the breaststroke, long the leg on which the Scot would take huge bites into the leads of her rivals.

Willmott came back in 65.87, the only swimmer to touch the wall in a sub-4:40 time with world, European and Commonwealth medallist almost five seconds back in 4:44.60.

Shanahan, at 16 almost half Miley’s age and one of whom fine things are predicted, was third in 4:47.95.

Willmott, who is seeking to make her third Olympic team, told Swimming World:

“It wasn’t too bad. I’ve not swam that many 400IMs this season through illness and just missing events and things so it was quite good for me to have two hits at it on separate days and knowing I only had to worry about one at a time. I didn’t feel too bad this morning: got up early to make sure I was awake and try and give myself a chance to swim as fast or if I could, swim faster than last night.

“I didn’t really find it too much different: I guess because we have to sometimes swim 400 medley straight finals (heats to finals).

“So I didn’t find it too challenging but I think it was quite good for me at this time of year to get two hits on separate days really.”

O’Connor and Vasey shared the 100m breaststroke title in 1:08.15 ahead of 2017 world junior champion McSharry who clocked in 1:08.20.

The Irish woman won the 100 free in 57.05 ahead of Maria Godden of Kilkenny (57.60) and Ciara Morris of Swim Wales (57.97).

IM specialist Litchfield demonstrated the value of experience and the wisdom and maturity it brings with victory in the 200 fly in 1:59.53 ahead of 17-year-old Ed Mildred (1:59.97), of whom hopes are very high in British waters, with Irish record holder Brendan Hyland third in 2:00.04.

Commonwealth champion Alys Thomas led from the off to win the women’s equivalent in 2:10.07 ahead of Charlotte Atkinson (2:11.47) and Miley (2:16.16).

Jervis enjoyed a commanding victory in the 800m in 7:50.73, 37.37secs ahead of fellow Welshman Daniel Marotta in second (8:28.10) with Amelia Kane of Ards winning the women’s 1500 free in 17:29.12.

Joe Litchfield won the men’s 50 back in 25.82 with Larne swimmer Danielle Hill and Kathleen Dawson sharing the women’s title in 28.35.

 

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