Swimmer Adam Peaty will go into this summer’s delayed Olympics as Great Britain’s strongest gold medal hope after extending his dominance of the breaststroke events.

Far from his childhood fear of water – “every time I went to the pool I used to climb up my mum’s arms”, he told swimvortex.com in 2014 – Peaty until recently held the top 20 times in history for the 100 metres breaststroke. He still has 18 times in that bracket, including the top 14.

His world record of 56.88 seconds at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea was the first recorded time under 57 seconds and came before any other swimmer had even gone under 58.

  1. Adam Peaty, GB, 56.88sec (WR)
  2. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.10 (WR)
  3. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.13 (WR)
  4. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.14
  5. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.39
  6. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.47
  7. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.55 (WR)
  8. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.59
  9. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.62
  10. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.70
  11. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.75
  12. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.79
  13. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.87
  14. Adam Peaty, GB, 57.89
  15. Arno Kamminga, Ned, 57.90

Dutchman Arno Kamminga is Peaty’s nearest challenger having recently clocked 57.90, with American Michael Andrew at 58.14, while Belarus swimmer Ilya Shymanovich holds the short-course record of 55.34 after Peaty had twice broken that record too in November 2020.

The Uttoxeter-born swimmer’s form is peaking going into the Games, having raced at the British selection trials in April and clocked 57.70 seconds in his heat and 57.39 in the final – respectively the 10th- and fifth-fastest times ever, completing his top 20 until Kamminga’s effort later that month.

He told the PA news agency in the lead-up to the Games: “Pressure, for me, is more of a freedom than something that’s going to restrain me. I’m a very chilled guy.

“I know the pressure is there, I know the country is looking for hope and they will be looking to the Olympic team.

“There will be kids who stay up to watch these races, I just want to do it for the next generation of Olympians because I know how I felt (at London 2012) watching that on my TV.”

Adam Peaty with his 2018 Olympic gold medal in the 100m breaststroke
Adam Peaty with his 2018 Olympic gold medal in the 100m breaststroke (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Peaty is the reigning Olympic champion and has since won World and European Championship and Commonwealth medals in the event as part of an extensive medal haul.

He won the 50m – in the first ever sub-26 second time – and 100m double at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, adding the 4x100m medley for a treble at Gwangju 2019 and a career total of eight golds, a silver and a bronze at the World Championships in addition to three short-course silvers from 2014.

He has won gold in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, 4x100m medley an 4x100m mixed medley at each of the last four European Championships and consecutive 100m titles among his three Commonwealth gold medals.