Adam Peaty once again re-wrote the record books as he became the first man in history to break 57 seconds, with a stunning 56.88 clocking.
Lining up in the semi-finals of the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea, Peaty was on majestic form, streaking clear of his rivals to win by almost two full seconds, lowering his own world record in the process.
A great start led to a 26.63 split at the turn, before Peaty poured it on down the home straight, roared on by a lively Korean crowd, and even he was surprised as he saw the time flash up on the scoreboard.
Whilst the magnitude of his achievement is undeniable, there is still work to be done, as he will step back out into the Gwangju arena tomorrow night to try and win a fifth world title.
Speaking afterwards, Peaty said:
“It feels incredible! I’ve been chasing that for three years now - ever since I touched the wall in Rio I knew I could go faster. I said this morning I wasn’t going to chase 56, I was going to let it come to me, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. I’ve used all the team around me and have some great support staff at British Swimming, so a massive, massive thanks to them, especially Mel who’s been there for 10 years, so it’s a very special journey that we’ve had.
“But there’s still a job to do tomorrow. I’ve come here to win a World title and that’s tomorrow and that’s still my main focus, so this was just a bonus and I’ll use this energy tomorrow.”
Lining up in the same semi-final, James Wilby was also in great form as he touched second in 58.83, the 4th time he has gone sub 59, to secure lane three in the final. Tomorrow the pair will look to make more history by placing two British athletes on a World Championship 100m Breaststroke podium.
Of his swim, Wilby said:
“I just focus on my own stuff and my own races, but credit where it’s due, that was a very, very impressive swim! It’s always really satisfying when we have a GB 1-2 and we’ve had that at the last two major internationals – we get a real buzz from that. For myself though, I’m just moving through each round and the 100m and 200m are both equal focuses for me. I’ve started strong now I’ve got to continue it.”
Having secured a place at next summer’s Olympic Games by virtue of finishing in the top 12 this morning, the GB Men’s 4x100m Freestyle relay team returned to the pool for the final looking to challenge for a medal.
With an identical line-up as this morning, which saw the team qualify second quickest, Duncan Scott, James Guy, Ben Proud and Scott McLay lined up on the blocks knowing the British record could also be in their sights. Stepping up to the plate when it mattered, each of the four men swam quicker than they had this morning to post a time of 3.11.81, a British textile record.
Dipping inside 48 seconds Scott swam a great opening leg to hand over to James Guy in third place and he again impressed over the sprint distance with his fastest ever swim, maintaining the team’s position. In his second swim of the night, Proud was patient down the first length, coming back strongly, handing over to young Scott McLay in fourth, right in the medal shake-up. Attacking the race using his impressive 50m speed, McLay did everything he could claim his team a medal, swimming a stunning 47.85 lifetime best but in the end even that wasn’t enough as he touched fifth.
A sensational team effort, the quartet have put Great Britain on the map and with more progress between now and Tokyo 2020, anything is possible.
Speaking afterwards James Guy started:
“To come fifth in the final with these boys, in our first 4x100m at a major meet is amazing and to set a new British record in the textile suit is amazing. To go 47.7 again is pretty cool and it shows I’ve got plenty of speed, which is a nice confidence boost for the meet.”
“We came in here with nothing to lose, gave it our all and as team we did absolutely incredibly. I’m really happy with my drop but it’s just great to be a part of this. I wanted to leave everything in the water and that’s exactly what I did.”
Duncan Scott concluded:
“I was happy with my lead off, the first time going 47 outside of Britain so that’s a nice boundary to get away. We went in there to try and better ourselves from this morning and we did that, so we can walk away proud of coming fifth in the world and try and move it on next year.”
Earlier in the night Proud earnt the chance to defend his 50m Butterfly World title after advancing from the semi-final stage with another solid swim. Going in the second semi, which contained the majority of the big names, Proud touched fifth from lane two, his 23.14 time two tenths quicker than he swam this morning.
The big British sprinter knows he’ll have to step it up another gear tomorrow if he’s to contend for the medals, commenting:
“It was all about getting to the final, which hasn’t come naturally to me today, with neither of the races feeling springy or the way they’ve felt in the past, but I’ve got through and I’ve got 24 hours to put my legs up, recover, focus and try and put a good race together tomorrow. I feel confident that if I get my race right then I can get a big chunk out of that time and who knows – in a 50m fly final it really is just about getting your hand on the wall.”
Last but not least was Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, as despite an electric opening night of swimming action, she put together a business like performance to secure a spot in the Women’s 200m IM final. Fifth in her semi-final, O’Connor went half a second quicker than this morning with a 2.10.49 clocking and if she can go even quicker tomorrow then she’ll too will be in the medal shake-up.
The action resumes at 10.00 local time (02.00 UK time) tomorrow - you can catch all the action live on FINA TV
Full results from the FINA World Aquatics Championships can be found here.
Highlights will be shown on the BBC Two as follows:15.45 – 17.15: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
15:00 – 16:00: Saturday
15.30 – 17.00: Sunday
*highlights will also be available on the red button at select times.