Golden boy Peaty eclipses Wilkie as Britain's greatest swimmer
Rivals admit 22-year-old is performing on a different level after claiming fifth world title
Adam Peaty produced another stunning display to become Britain's most successful ever swimmer at the World Championships in Budapest.
The Uttoxeter man followed up victory in the 100m breaststroke by claiming gold in the 50m breaststroke.
His fourth individual title - he also won both disciplines in Kazan in 2015 - means at the age of 22, he has now eclipsed David Wilkie, who won three between 1973 and 1975.
"It says something about the superhuman standards which Adam Peaty has set for himself that a second gold medal of the World Championships in the second fastest 50m breaststroke time in history can feel like something of an anti-climax," says The Telegraph.
"So high has Peaty raised the bar that nothing less than a world record is now expected whenever he dives in the pool. After all the Olympic 100m champion had set two world records of 26.10 and 25.95 seconds in the space of a few hours in his 50m heats and semi-finals on Tuesday. On Wednesday night he was just 0.04 seconds outside that semi-final time in winning the final in 25.99 seconds with something to spare."
Peaty finished 0.53secs ahead of Joao Gomes of Brazil.
Third-place Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa said the Briton's unique style put him on a completely different level to his rivals.
"It's not really breaststroke any more. He's swimming a new kind of stroke. It's like a metamorphosis between fly and breast. You have to have a lot of power to swim it and it suits him perfectly to his strokes. It’s difficult because not everyone can do it but I guess people will have to start imitating that angulation fly movement to go and beat him," he said, reports The Guardian.
Peaty now holds the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth 100m breaststroke titles and the World and European 50m breaststroke titles. He also has the world record at both distances – plus eight of the ten fastest times in history at 50m - and the worrying thing for his rivals is he still believes there is room for improvement, reports the Daily Express.
He said: "The 25[.99secs] makes it official that I'm a 25-point second swimmer now, so that's good. We're starting to look at very fast times now for 50 breaststroke and I'm pretty sure I took an extra stroke that I shouldn't have taken, that slowed me down."
The swimmer, who refused to sit in a bath as a child because he was scared of water, has now won five World Championships golds, having also triumphed in the 4x100 mixed medley relay two years ago.
However, he was unable to help Britain retain the title, with the team finishing a disappointing fifth an hour after his individual success, but still has an opportunity to add to his tally in the 4x100 men's medley relay on Sunday.