Peaty Returns To Racing Waters In Strong Field At McCullagh International Meet

Foto Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse 21 Dicembre 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. Nella foto: PEATY Adam Photo Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse December 21, 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. In the picture: PEATY Adam
Adam Peaty - Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse

Adam Peaty makes his return to racing when he spearheads a strong field at the McCullagh International Meet in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

The Olympic 100m breaststroke champion will be joined by a number of British team-mates including Duncan Scott, James Wilby, Luke Greenbank, Siobhan O’Connor and Molly Renshaw.

Awaiting will be the likes of triple Irish record holders Brendan Hyland and Darragh Greene as well as Mona McSharry, the 2017 world and European junior 100m breaststroke champion and holder of four national marks.

The meet, at the Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex, runs from 20-23 February with finals being held in the morning, mirroring the schedule in Tokyo in July.

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Adam Peaty. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

It marks Peaty’s return to competitive waters for the first time since the International Swimming League’s inaugural grand finale in Las Vegas.

The eight-time world champion and double world-record holder has recently returned from a five-week training block in Australia with coach Mel Marshall and their Loughborough group.

Meticulous, demanding, tough training in order to demonstrate preparation and be the best version of themselves come Tokyo with the British trials to negotiate in April.

Peaty said on Instagram:

“I put everything into my craft and I can’t wait to see where I pop out – as they say hustle all winter, shine all summer 🤩🚀”

The 25-year-old, who was named 2019 European male swimmer of the year for the third time in four years in January after a year that saw him venture further into outer orbit with a shuddering world record of 56.88, is entered in the 50-100-200m breaststroke.

Over 50 and 100m he will face Wilby – who won silver at last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea behind Peaty – 2015 world bronze medallist Murdoch and Greene, who missed the world 100 semis by one place and 0.07secs while setting an Irish record of 59.82.

Peaty was second over 200m behind Anton Chupkov in the London leg of the ISL although that was in a short-course pool but he is seldom seen over four lengths.

Wilby and Murdoch were gold and silver medallists respectively at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast with the Englishman also claiming double silver at the European Championships in Glasgow that same year.

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Duncan Scott – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Scott sent a warning shot to poolsides worldwide at the BUCS (British University and Colleges Sport) Nationals in Sheffield, England, last weekend when he produced a scorching 48.53, leading off the University of Stirling’s 4×100 free relay.

The Scot, who produced the second-fastest split in history of 46.14 when he mowed down Nathan Adrian to anchor Britain to medley relay gold in Gwangju, is also entered in the 200 free, 200IM and 100 fly.

Greenbank also enjoyed a golden weekend at the BUCS Nationals, where he competed for Loughborough, and he will race the 50-100-200m backstroke.

Shane Ryan, 2018 European 50m back bronze medallist and national record holder, awaits in the two-length race with Conor Ferguson in the 200 back.

Ed Mildred, 17 and winner of four medals including two golds at last year’s European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan, will tackle a multi-event programme including the 400IM where he will face Max Litchfield.

Litchfield was fourth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 before being locked out by one place in both the 200 and 400IM one year later at the worlds in Budapest.

There was disappointment last year in Gwangju when he finished seventh in the longer medley before he won his first senior international individual title at the European short-course in Glasgow.

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Max Litchfield – Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr

Litchfield, who trains under Dave Hemmings at Loughborough, keenly felt that outcome in Gwangju but as with his past disappointments, was focused on looking ahead, eyes on the trials at the Aquatics Centre in London.

He told Swimming World:

“That was tough. Nowhere near what my expectations are and I should be better than that always. It was a really tough thing to take but sometimes you need those experiences to bounce back stronger. Every time I’ve had one of those tough experiences I’ve come back better.

“That’s in the past, you move forward and it would have been nice to be quicker. But it is what it is. We’ll move on and we’ll get better.

“It’s just good for me to look forward to April and hopefully to Tokyo.”

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Siobhan O’Connor; Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

O’Connor spearheads a real tussle in the 200IM in which she won Olympic silver in 2016.

The double Commonwealth champion, who last year switched her long-time training base in Bath to Loughborough, will face double Olympian Aimee Willmott, Hannah Miley, Abbie Wood – who clocked 2:11.77 at BUCS – and 16-year-old Katie Shanahan.

Miley – a long-time sterling performer for Britain with world, European and Commonwealth medals – Willmott, the current Commonwealth champion, and Shanahan, who won European junior bronze in Kazan, Russia, last year will meet in the 400IM.

2 May 2015; Mona McSharry, Marlin, competes in the final of the women's 100m breaststroke event during the 2015 Irish Open Swimming Championships at the National Aquatic Centre, Abbotstown, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Mona McSharry: Photo Courtesy: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

O’Connor will also compete in the 100m breaststroke where Sarah Vasey, Molly Renshaw and McSharry await while Commonwealth 200 fly champion Alys Thomas appears in the fly events.

Former Swim Ireland and Swim Ulster President Betty Beattie told the Belfast Telegraph:

“We’ve had some of the best swimmers come here on and off throughout the years.

“I remember Mark Foster coming to compete when the Lisburn pool was first opened – that was about 20 years ago.

“To have Adam Peaty coming is terrific, a real coup.

 “It will be great for the young swimmers to have a chance to see someone like him, who’s at the very top of the sport.”

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