In Depth

Adam Peaty: The secrets behind his record-breaking swimming technique

How gym work, good posture and an ability to maintain stroke rate have turned him into a champion

British swimmer Adam Peaty set two world records in one day at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.

The Olympic champion  twice broke his own world-best time in the 50m breaststroke, first in the heats and then the semi-final, becoming the first person to swim the distance in 25.95secs

Having already claimed gold in the 100m breaststroke, it would come as a huge shock if Peaty does not add the 50m winner's medal to his tally in today's final. 

His achievements, says the BBC, include:

  • breaking the 50m breaststroke world record four times - the first in Berlin in 2014;
  • holding the top ten times in the world for the 100m breaststroke;
  • swimming a 100m world record of 57.13 at the Rio Olympics in 2016;
  • attempting to become the first swimmer to break the 57-second mark in the 100m breaststroke, a challenge he refers to as "Project 56", and
  • being part of the British 4x100m mixed medley relay team which broke the world record for a second time at the 2015 World Championships

Seven-time Olympic gold medallist Mark Spitz tells the London Evening Standard Peaty is now only swimming against the clock as his rivals cannot catch him.

"Peaty's dominance is rubber-stamped as soon as he hits his stride, thanks to rock-like technique," says the paper.

Spitz adds: "A lot of breaststrokers when they come up for their breath, it looks like their heads are going up and down but there is motion to the left and right. He is a swimmer that doesn’t have that."

After his Olympic success last year, Peaty revealed some of his secrets to the Daily Telegraph, saying he ate up to 8,000 calories a day while training and did much of his work in the gym, not the water. 

"Once you are in the water, it becomes quite easy to hold your position so you have to do most of your core strength training in the gym," he said.

"People get confused about swimming technique, but the secret to a good breaststroke is to use your legs as much as possible. About 70 per cent of your power comes through your legs so they are your main tools in the breaststroke." 

Swimming World highlights another key aspect of Peaty's technique: the speed of his stroke. 

Despite being taller than many of his rivals, the 22-year-old Uttoxeter man "is still able to take more strokes and maintain a higher stroke-rate than his nearest competitors without compromising his line", says the magazine.

At the Olympics, he began races at the rate of 60 strokes a minute and only dropped off to 55 strokes after 50m. Most of his rivals start slower and drop off more.

"Peaty’s ability to maintain stroke rate is unprecedented, even compared to the other medalists," says Swimming World.

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