Tokyo Vision: Adam Peaty Seeks To Join Kosuke Kitajima In 100 Breaststroke Pantheon

Adam Peaty - Olympic immortality - Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Tokyo Vision: Adam Peaty Seeks To Join Kosuke Kitajima In The Olympic Pantheon

Had the COVID-19 pandemic not shaken the world, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo would be unfolding right now, titles and podium finishes earned by the finest athletes from around the world. Instead, we are in a competition lull and hopeful that the Games will be held next summer, with COVID-19 neutralized.

As we reach the nine days over which the swimming competition of a delayed Olympiad would have taken place, Swimming World is taking a glimpse at what might have unfolded this summer, had the Olympics not been postponed. Following the official schedule, we offer our virtual fields of eight finalists for each event and take a brief look at how the racing might have panned out until a few strokes away from decision and a result that will not be known until July/August 2021.

League of Olympic Legends: Kosuke Kitajima Tops 100 Breaststroke Podium With Hencken & Peaty

Event: Men’s 100m Breaststroke
World Record: Adam Peaty (2019) – 56.88


Photo Courtesy: Junya Nishigawa

Historical Note #1: Kosuke Kitajima is the only swimmer – male or female – to have successfully defended the 100m breaststroke title. The Japanese went into Athens in 2004 having seen his USA rival Brendan Hansen break both his 100 and 200 world records, serving to ignite his fierce determination. Kitajima won the 100 in 1:00.08 and completed the breaststroke double with victory over four lengths in 2:09.44. Four years later in Beijing, Kitajima became the first man to break the 59-second barrier en-route to 100m gold in 58.91 and also took the 200 in 2:07.64 to complete the double-double, a feat that remains untouched today.

Historical Note #2: Cameron van der Burgh became the first South African man to win an individual Olympic gold in the pool when he won the 100m breaststroke at London 2012. He led from the front and was .60secs under Brenton Rickard’s world-record pace at halfway, never threatened as he set a new mark of 58.46 ahead of the fast-finishing Christian Sprenger and Brendan Hansen. He sat on the lane rope before lying back with his head on the wall.

Virtual Vision

The Finalists (Listed Alphabetically)

  • Arno Kamminga (Netherlands)
  • Yasuhiro Koseki (Japan)
  • Adam Peaty (Great Britain)
  • Kirill Prigoda (Russia)
  • Ilya Shymanovich (Belarus)
  • James Wilby (Great Britain)
  • Andrew Wilson (USA)
  • Yan Zibei (China)

The Race

Adam Peaty had never been beaten over 100m in senior competition since his arrival on the international scene with gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. That heralded years of domination which had seen the Briton at the forefront of the event, threatening to disappear over the horizon with his rivals in his slipstream. The first man under 58 seconds in 2015, the Olympic champion a year later and then in 2019 the completion of ‘Project 56’ as he broke through yet another barrier in 56.88.


Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

The Briton had done extensive work on his dive with coach Mel Marshall at a camp in Australia, coming up at 15m although the men in the middle were pretty much in a line. Peaty though had forged ahead by the 25m mark and was almost a second in front of his nearest rival by halfway, the only man to go sub 27secs.

Behind him there was a real tussle as China’s Yan Zibei, Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands, Peaty’s British teammate James Wilby and Andrew Wilson of the United States all turned pretty much together.

Kamminga had consistently gone 58.4 and better since March 2020, the Dutchman having shown constant improvement under coach Mark Faber in Amsterdam. Consistently sub 31 on the second 50, the Dutchman went to the head of the chasing pack with just Peaty ahead of him and 20m remaining.

Peaty was all momentum but Kamminga was calm and confident, now with Wilby for company and Yasuhiro Koseki roared on by the home crowd.

So, would it be a foregone conclusion that Peaty would win and if so would a historic time be on the cards? Who would make the podium and who would not?


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