When Adam Peaty came up the creek, he got himself a paddle. The England swimmer’s hopes of competing at the Commonwealth Games on home soil were dashed in May when he broke his foot in the gym. But while the injury kept Peaty out of the pool for six weeks, he found another way to train on the water – in a boat.
The idea came from Peaty’s trainer, Mel Marshall, who arranged for him to train with British Canoeing and learn to paddle a kayak. It helped the three-time Olympic champion stay fit as he wore his protective boot but, more importantly, it helped alleviate boredom as he recovered from the first major injury of his glittering career. .
“You have to completely change it and I found a way,” says Peaty. “It was important for my health and my mental well-being to try something new and be in a completely different environment.
“British Canoeing accepted me – and made fun of me a few times too!” But after about four weeks, I upgraded to a K1 on my own. Canoeing alone might not sound so impressive, but when your ass is on either side because the boat is so thin, it’s very impressive!
Adam Peaty is looking forward to competing in up to four events at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
After making waves in the canoe, Peaty is now set to make a splash at Birmingham 2022. He could come away with four golds – in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, as well as the men’s and mixed 4x100m medley relays . And while many may question the value of the Commonwealth Games, it is of utmost importance to Peaty, especially because of where it takes place.
“I live in the Midlands and will probably die in the Midlands,” says Uttoxeter-born Peaty. “Birmingham is 50 minutes from my home, so it’s as close to home as it gets for me. If I could swear I would wear, I’m so excited.
The Commonwealths also hold a special place in Peaty’s heart as it was where he first came to prominence at the age of 19. Swimming at his first senior championships in Glasgow 2014, he stunned South African Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh by winning gold in the 100m breaststroke. Peaty has not been beaten at this distance since.
“I was a lot more nervous in 2014,” said Peaty, 27. “I took part in these Games as a complete underdog. I just thought, ‘I’m going to go to these championships and try to make the next Olympics and see where it goes.
“I was already wondering what I was going to do after swimming, expecting it to be the next year or two that I retire and find a real job. But I still go there and I still like it.
Peaty has had to wear a protective boot since breaking his right foot in an incident in May
And Peaty has no plans to retire anytime soon. He is aiming for the next Olympics in Paris in two years and even in Los Angeles in 2028.
But he’s not just looking for more medals. He is also pursuing what he calls the “Immortal Project” – his attempt to set a 100m breaststroke time that can never be beaten. His world record of 56.88 seconds set in 2019 already looks impregnable, but Peaty isn’t satisfied.
“The next two years are about trying to get back to 56 and that’s the start,” says Peaty, who heads to Birmingham ‘blindfolded’ after missing the world championships last month and hasn’t raced since. april.
“I don’t think 56.88 will be hit for a while. But I’m talking about never – and I wouldn’t swim if I knew I couldn’t break the world record anymore.
“It’s just not enough for me to stay in a sport and win. I’m all about human excellence, pushing body and mind as far as it can go. It’s extremely difficult, but I thrive in those uncomfortable times. So I’m going to go anyway. It’s going to be a two-year mission now to get that perfect performance in Paris and also push for that world record.
Peaty with his son, George, born in 2020. The England swimmer has no retirement plans
Unlike the last time he broke the world record in 2019, Peaty now has to juggle pool activities and parenthood. It’s a balancing act he admits he struggled with when his son George was born in 2020.
Peaty says, “I remember those first few weeks when he wasn’t sleeping, I was like, ‘This is going to make me slower. How am I going to win the Olympics?
‘When you had kids, it’s like, ‘What just hit me? Especially as an athlete, which is a very selfish job. But like everything, the human brain and body adapt and I love every moment. It’s a very difficult balance but now I have the right balance and it works.
George will be at the Sandwell Aquatics Center to see his father swim in a major championship for the first time. And after the empty stadiums at last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo where he won two gold medals, Peaty is thrilled to perform to a packed house.
“Over the past two years, that has been taken away from us as athletes,” he added. “Some athletes might find it easier to perform in front of nobody, but I really think real athletes do it in front of anybody.”
“I love walking out there with my head held high and embracing the crowd. I can’t wait to see those English flags.
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