Adam Peaty: With 56.1 In His Sights, Inspiring Son George And Invoking The Warrior Spirit

Adam Peaty (photo: Mike Lewis)
Adam Peaty, Arena Bishamon Collection: Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis

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Adam Peaty: With 56.1 In His Sights, Inspiring Son George And Invoking The Warrior Spirit

Adam Peaty’s domination of the 100 breaststroke has been absolute since his senior international debut at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Unbeaten over two lengths of the pool since he won gold at the Tollcross pool in Glasgow, Peaty has won every title available to him – Olympic, world, Commonwealth and European – in the intervening seven years.

At the European Championships in Budapest in May, Peaty won his fourth straight title to claim the quadruple-quadruple by sweeping the 50-100br and with the men’s and mixed medley relays for the fourth consecutive championships.

His world record of 56.88 is 1.02secs ahead of Arno Kamminga, the next swiftest man in history and the only other swimmer to have broken through the 58sec barrier, going 57.90 in April.

The Briton has gone 57 or lower on 17 occasions; he owns the top 16 and 18 of the top 20 times in history.

The 16-time European champion heads this year’s rankings with 57.39 from the British trials in April, one of four sub-58 efforts.

Should he succeed, Peaty would become only the second swimmer to win consecutive Olympic 100br golds to move alongside Kosuke Kitajima, the Japanese legend who won the 100-200 double at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

Adam Peaty

Adam Peaty, Arena Bishamon Collection: Photo Courtesy: Arena

He would also become the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic swimming title with Becky Adlington adding double bronze at London 2012 to her 400/800 free golds in Beijing four years earlier.

David Wilkie won 200br gold in Montreal in 1976, four years after silver over both breaststroke distances.

Not that such things drive or concern the eight-time world champion who has always laid stress on the process.

He told Swimming World:

“Going into the Games now is a very different vibe to me in terms of the preparation for Rio being very different to the preparation now.

“I feel very relaxed, very experienced. I know when to control my emotions, I know when to turn on the fury, I know when to turn on the precision.

“I can flick on the switch, I can be exactly as I need to be to hopefully get the best possible performance.

“But outside that I can control my emotions even better now because I’ve been doing it quite a while.

“Through covid I’ve learned so much about myself and about the sport that I’m just enjoying this process now.”

Athletes, Peaty among them, often say their own expectations of themselves are far greater than those placed on them by others.

Can his own expectation then be a burden?

Peaty said:

“It can be but Mel (coach Mel Marshall) said the other day that pressure is a privilege: people expect you to perform because they want you to perform and I think that’s the most beautiful thing you can do.

“Coming down that last 50 or even the first 50 I’ve got the whole country behind me so that pressure is great to have.

“Expectation? Yes, I have very high standards to perform in myself. I know what time will make me happy and what won’t make me happy but then again it comes down to the competition, anything can be thrown out there.”

And that time he would be happy with is one that would take him even further through the time-warp, as he said:

“If we put all our best parts of our race into the data – to the best 50 we’ve ever done, the best 25 we’ve ever done – if we put all that together, it’s a 56 low or a 56.1.

“Whether that would actually come off, we don’t know – I’m not going to say yes or no – but it would be nice just to beat my world record because that’s incredibly fast anyway. I’m certainly able to do that.

“How I raced at Europeans (57.66 & 57.67) – I should not have raced that fast, I shouldn’t have been that fast.

“I looked at the board after the 50 (26.21) and went no way, that was extremely fast for the amount of work we’d been putting in.

“I’m in a very, very good place: I’ve just got to hold my ground now.

“Whether it’s a worlds or Olympics or Europeans, the preparation is pretty much the same but with Olympics…Mel calls it the 10% because that’s what I gain by racing at the Olympics.

“It’s a huge, huge competition and I have huge pride in representing my country.”

Becoming A Father And Inspiring George To Dream


Adam Peaty – Olympic immortality in 57.13sec – Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Peaty was 21 when he won the title in Rio, lowering his 57.92 world record in heats to 57.55 followed by a semi-final effort of 57.62.

In the final he went 57.13 – still 0.77 faster than any other man has ever gone – and hoisted himself on to the lane rope, face turned to the heavens.

His life was transformed in September 2020 when he became a father to George with partner Eiri Munro.

In fact, the entire 100br podium in Rio have subsequently become fathers: Cameron van der Burgh to Harry and Cody Miller welcoming Axel.

Peaty beamed:

“I’ve loved every moment of being a father. Even when he cries, it gives me a duty. I like to have a lot of fun with George, I always get told off by Eiri for being too much fun with him! 

 “I think your kids have to be your best friends if you want a strong and trusting relationship with them.


“I’ve got a massive job as an athlete but an even larger job as a father over the next 18 years, potentially to more kids as well.”

So too has George made Peaty ask questions of himself, to examine his priorities and motivation and to be a role model that inspires his son to dare to dream and to never just be satisfied but to always strive for more.


He said:

“I think being a dad has given me a little bit of an ultimatum as to where I put my energy and who I’m doing it for.

“I always swam for myself and I always raced for my country but now I do it to inspire George and to show him that just because you win an Olympic title or hold a world record it doesn’t mean you have to stop there. You keep pushing and pushing.


Photo Courtesy: @adam_peaty

“I think that’s the best bit of advice you can give your kids, to give them that incentive.

“If you’re a role model and you show your children that you can take on the world, then they can be inspired to follow their dreams too.

“But hopefully it’s not swimming because I don’t fancy getting up at 4am again!!

“Seriously though, whichever path George takes, I want to show him that you can be the best in the world, and you can take on the world if you’re willing to work hard for it and discipline yourself enough to put yourself ahead of the next guy.

“I’d love him to be able to apply himself and work hard on whatever passion he has as he grows up.

“Every bit of energy from the day is going to cost, and it’s got to come from somewhere, there is a balance to everything you do.”

The Strength Of Team Peaty

 Around Peaty is a strong network, many of them women.


Partner Eiri, mum Caroline – who would ferry him to and from training from his beginnings at the Dove Valley club – and grandmother Mavis.


He said:

“I come from a big family, I have two brothers and one sister. I’m the youngest, so I’ve always had to fight my corner a bit.

“I definitely think this has instilled in me a determination and a dedication to succeed.”

Adam Peaty, UK 003905

Adam Peaty, Arena Bishamon Collection: Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis

Mel Marshall has coached Peaty since he was 14, when he joined his friend Kyle for a session at the City of Derby club where she was head coach.

He’s always acknowledged the role of Team Peaty in his success and he added:

“I really think my success is down to so many – my girlfriend Eiri who is the most amazing mother to George, our supportive network of family and friends and the great support of the great team behind us.


“It’s the whole team that makes it possible for me to do what I do. 


“I have an amazing team around me and an incredible partnership with Mel.  


I wouldn’t turn up if Mel made my sessions easy. I hate going easy because I can’t see progress in easy. I like to suffer! 


“I have a lot of experience behind me. I have a lot of data that tells me that I am going to perform here and make this time there but I think the biggest thing you can contribute to a team is not the medals but the aura, charisma and fearlessness.”

It’s rare to find a female coach-male athlete partnership and Marshall was unimpressed by Peaty until she saw him do breaststroke. Instantly she knew she had someone special in her pool.


Under Marshall’s watchful eye, Peaty has claimed 41 international medals – 29 of them gold – and set five long-course and two short-course world records over 100m and three 50 standards.

Marshall is a two-time Olympian who won world, Commonwealth and European medals in her own swimming days.

Coach Mel Marshall and Adam Peaty London Roar ISL by Mike Lewis D5D_8965

Mel Marshall & Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis / ISL

Not only has she been fundamental to what Peaty has achieved on the sporting stage but she also ensured he confronted the wider world by introducing him to charity work in Zambia where she’s a patron of the Perfect Day Foundation.

In October 2012, Peaty joined a group including Adlington, 2008 Olympic 400 free bronze medallist Jo Jackson and two-time Olympic champion Ross Davenport on a bike ride across the East African country.

Following the 2017 worlds, the pair returned to undertake a challenge of doing 50 hours of sport across five days to raise funds in part for a residential sports facility for young people.

She has developed the man as well as the athlete who is happy to lead be it to declare his support for the right for athletes’ freedom of expression at the Olympics or his belief in the harshest of sanctions for dopers.

Of Marshall as a coach, he said:

“Mel always knows the right thing to say before a race. I’m like a bull ready to charge, so she is normally calming me down. She keeps me level-headed and focused. 


“When we were in Tanzania, Mel pointed to Kilimanjaro, and said: ‘Whatever happens, we’re going to climb that mountain and then reflect on the way up.’


“To know I have her support through anything is everything.”

Invoking The Warrior Spirit

Peaty will be clad in the Arena Bishamon collection in Tokyo.

One of the Seven Gods of Fortune in Japanese folklore, Bishamon – or Bishamonten – is an armour-clad warrior god, a guardian deity who protects and brings divine favour in battle.

It’s something that resonates with Peaty, very much the gladiator in the arena, a soldier leading from the front.


Adam Peaty, Arena Bishamon Collection:Photo Courtesy: Mike Lewis

“Yes, definitely! I’m ready to have a good fight, that’s how I view swimming. You’ve got to put everything on the line and then sacrifice even more for victory.

“That is my personality, and everyone knows it: I’m quite an aggressive racer and I’ll use my aggression, it’s how my brain is wired.

“But, at the end of the day sport is entertainment and it’s a source of inspiration for a lot of people.

“That moment when I put the Union Jack, the five rings and my Arena Bishamon suit on is when I’ll respond – it’s the ultimate race.

“I am also extremely proud to have an opportunity to make history at the Olympic Games, with all of its ancient heritage.

“It’s massive motivation for me to know that all those people are watching me race, I’m not sure a lot of people use that like I do; it’s a huge source of motivation for me.

“The thought of being beaten keeps me going; I’m a competitor, I love competition.

“I have respect for my fellow competitors but also, I let my swimming do the talking, I let the race speak for itself.

“If you get complacent and think you can’t be beaten, you start to make mistakes.

“Like warriors, I think athletes have both weaknesses and strengths, and recognising these is very important in becoming the best you can be.”

“I have a lot of patience, I’m extremely disciplined and I have an unparalleled work ethic; I use adversity to propel me forward, using it as motivation rather than seeing it as an obstacle.”

Heading To Tokyo With ‘Best’ British Team 

ADam Peaty 2021 Europeans

Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Britain enjoyed their greatest success in the pool in Rio since the 1908 Olympics with six medals.


On top of Peaty’s gold, he also won silver with the men’s 4×100 medley relay squad that went one better in 2019 to win world gold in Gwangju, Duncan Scott anchoring them in the second-fastest split in history.


Jazz Carlin won silver in the 400 and 800 free, Siobhan O’Connor – who announced he retirement last month – was second in the 200IM as was the men’s 4×200 free.


The competition at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre promises to be a thriller and Peaty believes Britain is in a great position, saying:


“Success and development all trickles down from the leadership and what they tell the coaches and how the coaches train.


“We’re a lot smarter now, more process orientated. I don’t waste my time or energy on something that I don’t think will work.


“I’m experienced now and I want to be able to lead by example and offer that experience to others too.  


“I don’t think any past British swimming team has been as good as this team in terms of welcoming the new swimmers, introducing our culture and just letting them swim.


“It’s all about performance for us. I think if you can have that relaxed, calm state but go to battle when you need to, then you’ve got a very strong team.


“I have team-mates who look up to me in the team, but I also have team-mates I look up to, such as Duncan and Jimmy (Guy).


“It’s great to have a team which is so cohesive.”

What’s In Peaty’s Kit Bag?

adam peaty, 2021 european championships, tokyo olympics

Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Perottino / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

“I always race in the Core FX, either in the new Bishamon style or in the black and gold suit. On a race day I pack two suits, one new and one old. I’ve never had an arena costume rip on me but have had other brands do so in the past!

“Other than my suit, the most important item in my kit bag is my goggles. I love arena goggles because they don’t fog as quickly as other brands. I only have to change them over every couple of months, compared to every two weeks as I’ve had to before. My favourite pair to train and race in are the Bishamon goggles. I also always race in the arena soft cap.

“In terms of training kit, I don’t think you need super high-tech kit to be a great athlete but you do need to have trust in everything you wear and use.

“I like to train in arena basic trunks in a minimalistic design. My favourite hand paddles are ones made by arena which have a single strap on the finger and a hole in the middle.

“They allow me to really feel the water on the palm of my hand.

“Also in my kit bag are my gold Arena fins. I think fins are everyone’s favourite!  I use an Arena monotone backpack in matte black to keep everything in.”

Peaty has also written a book, The Gladiator Mindset, that will be published on 11 November.

It’s a 10-step guide that enables the reader “to push your limits and achieve the impossible”.



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