Peaty seals Olympics spot after 'three years of hell'

1 week ago
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Adam Peaty said he is back after winning the British 100m breaststroke title in the fastest time this year to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

A resurgent Peaty, who is continuing a comeback after taking time out to deal with depression and alcohol problems, won in 57.94 seconds in London.

It was his quickest time since he defended his Olympic title in 2021.

Asked if he is back to his best, the three-time Olympic champion, 29, said: "I think so."

He added: "A 57.9 is very good, still not where I want to be, but the first solid result where I am like, 'Oh not many people can do this'."

World-record holder Peaty was unbeaten over 100m for eight years from 2014, but he has experienced more difficult times since becoming the first British swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title in Tokyo.

He finished fourth in the 2022 Commonwealth Games after breaking his foot and stepped away from the sport for much of 2023 to prioritise his mental health, saying he had been in a "self-destructive spiral".

On his return to major championships in February he had to settle for world bronze in Doha but a time of 58.53 seconds in the heats on Tuesday would have been enough for gold in those World Championships, and he went even faster in the evening's final.

It was the quickest 100m breaststroke since China's Qin Haiyang, who is expected to be a rival for Peaty at this summer's Olympics, won the 2023 world championships in a time of 57.69.

"I felt so light in the water," he said.

"This is a real win for my team, my family and myself. We have come through the past three years of hell.

"I didn't want to see a pool again. The sport had broken me.

"I didn't know what route to go down and so many things got in my way, but now I am waking up each day and enjoying my job.

"Who knows what the ending is going to be but I am having fun along the way.

"It may not end up as a fairytale, but it might..."

The winner of each event at this week's championships effectively secures one of two Olympics places for each event, as long as the swimmer matches the qualification time.

Commonwealth champion James Wilby took silver behind Peaty but his time was 0.02secs outside the Olympic qualification time.

Elsewhere, Keanna MacInnes produced a shock in the 200m butterfly by pipping 2024 world champion Laura Stephens to secure her place.

She won the title in a Scottish record time of two minutes 7.24secs, but with Stephens also under the qualification time 0.13secs behind both are likely to compete in France.

Freya Colbert won the 200m freestyle but said she is unlikely to race the event in Paris because of a clash with the 400m individual medley - which she won at the World Championships earlier this year.

Colbert's win secured her a place on the 4x200m relay team while Abbie Wood was also under the qualification time in second, meaning she is likely to race the event at the Olympics.

Kieran Bird swam a lifetime best to win the men's 400m freestyle but his effort of 3:45.63 was an agonising 0.2secs outside the Olympic qualifying time.

The British championships are also fully integrated with the Para events, though Paralympic qualification takes a different format. Swimmers compete in mixed-classification races, then they are ranked in relation to their times to select a full squad.

In a competitive women's 200m Para-freestyle race, five swimmers - Poppy Maskill, Olivia Newman-Baronius, Louise Fiddes, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Suzanna Hext - were all under the qualification time.

Maskill took the title to put herself in pole position for a place in Paris.

Elsewhere in the Para-swimming events, Sam Downie won the 400m freestyle title, Grace Harvey the 50m butterfly, Lyndon Longhorne the 150m individual medley and Harry Stewart the 100m breaststroke, although all four were outside the initial qualification time for the Paralympics.

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