GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — By improving his own world record in the 100-meter breaststroke again, Olympic champion Adam Peaty is within one-hundredth of a second of completing his “Project 56.”
The British swimmer won gold in 57 seconds at the European Championships on Saturday, shaving 0.13 off his previous best mark, which he swam at the Rio de Janeiro Games two years ago.
Peaty, who has the 14 fastest times in the discipline, is the only swimmer to beat the 58-second mark, and last autumn he announced his ambition to go under 57 as well.
“I don’t want to just win, I want to dominate. And that’s not an arrogant side, that’s the competitive side in me,” he said on Saturday.
With a reaction time at the start of just 0.47, Peaty looked sharp from the beginning of the race. He never had his lead under threat. He beat James Wilby by 1.54 for a British 1-2 finish. Anton Chupkov of Russia finished 1.96 behind in third.
“It’s a weird one because I wasn’t going after a world record. But after the heat yesterday I knew I was in good shape,” said Peaty, who was still far from a world record in that heat (57.89) and in the semifinals (58.04), but he announced he “would be on my full game” for the final.
“After the semi I was back in the 58s but it just shows what you can do if you have a positive mental attitude,” he said.
It’s Peaty’s ninth European long-course title, to add to his five world titles.
In the buildup, Peaty said he wasn’t focusing on setting world records or below-57 finishing times anymore after his disappointing showing at the Commonwealth Games.
On the Gold Coast in April, he won the 100 breaststroke in only 58.84, and suffered a first defeat since 2014 in the 50 breaststroke, where he was edged by South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh.
“When you go four years without losing, you kind of get complacent even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself,” he said, adding that a “spider web of support” - his girlfriend, family, and coaches - helped him to rediscover his joy in the sport.
“It’s not just my victory tonight. It’s their victory as well. I didn’t train too hard these last months. I got the balance right between training smart and training very hard.”
Just missing out on a time below 57 didn’t bother him.
“No, that gives me another level of motivation,” he said. “If I’d achieved that, people would be talking about ‘Project 55.’”
An hour after Peaty’s achievement, Kliment Kolesnikov set a world record in the final of the men’s 50-meter backstroke. The Russian finished in 24 seconds to beat the previous best mark set by Britain’s Liam Tancock, who timed 24.04 at the 2009 world championships in Rome.
Robert-Andrei Glinta of Romania won silver after trailing Kolesnikov by 0.55, and Shane Ryan of Ireland finished 0.64 behind for bronze.
It’s the 18-year-old Kolesnikov’s second gold medal of the European Championships after winning the 4x100 freestyle with the Russian team on Friday. He also won four European titles at the short-track championships in Copenhagen last year.