Project 56: Will Adam Peaty achieve the unthinkable?

The name Adam Peaty continues to reverberate around the swimming and sporting fraternity as record after record tumbles in his wake. In recent days, the Uttoxexter-born revelation has broken his own world-record in the 50m breaststroke TWICE in one day, has become the first person to swim under 26 seconds in the same event and has retained both his 50m and 100m breaststroke titles with relative ease. Not a bad week’s work eh? Now Adam Peaty plans to break the 57-second barrier in the 100m breaststroke in future championships, which he has aptly named “Project 56”.

This is no normal ambition; to go sub-57 seconds in the 100m breaststroke is a target no one else in the swimming world could even think about aiming for. But so was the desire to break the 26-second barrier. Peaty achieved the latter, why can’t he achieve the former?

An extraordinary sportsman

Everything points to the fact that Adam Peaty can do the remarkable. From 2014 to 2016 he won gold in the 100m at every major swimming event, achieving in the process, an astonishing world record of 57.13 seconds at the Rio Olympics. 0.14 seconds is all that stands between Adam Peaty and swimming folklore; a margin that didn’t seem to bother Peaty at this week’s World Champions in Budapest, Hungary.

The defending champion won the 50m final earlier today in 25.99 seconds, but astoundingly he completed his semi-final in 25.95 seconds, becoming the first person to break 26 seconds and eclipsing his 26.10 in the heats. He beat his original record by 0.15 seconds – a margin greater than what Peaty needs to achieve sub-57 seconds in the 100m.

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Adam Peaty – pictured here after his second record-breaking swim in the 50m breaststroke in Budapest for the World Championships, 26 July (Image source/Twitter)

“This kid is absolutely unbelievable. Does he know any boundaries whatsoever? I don’t think he does.”

Olympic bronze medallist Steve Parry

Now, granted, 100m is double 50m, meaning a lot more can happen, especially with an underwater turn. But if anyone can do it, Peaty can. He has an inner passion and determination and a disregard for any possible obstacles or limits that even Michael Phelps – swimming’s all-time great and 23-times Olympic champion – shies away from.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to race him!”

Michael Phelps

Disaster? Not on Peaty’s watch!

Peaty is unlike any other in the pool; an animal surfaces when the race begins. A true warrior; he has let nothing and no one come between him and his aspirations. In Rio 2016, Adam Peaty had some of his kit stolen before the British team had even got settled and then missed two buses from the athletes’ village to the Olympic venue just hours before the 100m breaststroke final.

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Peaty and van der Burgh embrace each other after the former wins gold and the latter wins silver in Rio 2016 (Image source/Twitter)

For almost all other athletes, mindful of their pre-race routines and preparations, it would have been truly disorientating to the point of disaster. For Peaty, he remained calm and focused on his racing. Peaty not only triumphed, but he triumphed in a quite unbelievable manner, finishing 1.56 seconds ahead of South African and defending champion Cameron van der Burgh.

“I’ve achieved my lifetime dream, but I want more. I’m not happy with just Olympic gold. I want to leave a legacy and leave a world record that no-one will ever get.”

Adam Peaty

No one even comes close

In retaining his 100m World Championship title this week, Peaty beat his nearest rival, American Kevin Cordes, by an impressive 1.32 seconds. It seems no one can even come close to the humble 22-year-old from Staffordshire. This is even more evident when considering that Peaty holds the TOP TEN fastest ever times in the 100m breaststroke. The only competition stopping Peaty from smashing “Project 56” is himself; and he is even battering that to the extreme to conquer his goal.

“He is probably the hardest-working athlete I have ever worked with. If I told him to run through a brick wall, he’d probably do it then get up and go again, he’s an incredible specimen.”

British Swimming physical performance lead, Scott Pollock

Animal in the gym

Peaty is doing everything he possibly can to prepare him for his target. He is an absolute monster in the gym with a seriously impressive bench-press of 132kg and his own ‘jump clap’ and ‘chin-up clap’ routines, which emphasise his colossal upper-body strength. Peaty consumes, on average, 5500 calories a day in order to fuel this strength. Nobody can dispute the fact that his power blows all competition out of the water. By further pushing his body to the ultimate extreme, Peaty has shown he has the mental capacity and drive capable of going one step further.

The legacy that Peaty talks of leaving has already been made. The magnificent sporting hero has already pushed the boundaries of swimming far beyond what even Michael Phelps could achieve time-wise. Adam Peaty, being the competitor that he is, is not content with this. He is unwavering in what he wants to achieve in this sport.

“I want to push on the boundaries and be written down in the record books forever.”

Adam Peaty

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Mel Marshall has been a key figure in Peaty’s record-breaking exploits (Image source/Twitter)

And, backed by coach Mel Marshall, a former swimmer and the second most decorated female athlete ever, he has the support and elite guidance from the very best.

“To be honest, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet. Adam still has more to give.”

Mel Marshall, Peaty’s coach

“Project 56” a reality

Such an observation by a world-renowned and respected ambassador of the sport is indeed an ominous sign for any of his fellow breaststroke rivals whom hope to end the monopoly of the reigning Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion. Nothing and nobody has stopped the exceptional Adam Peaty from achieving world dominance. With Peaty’s talent, strength, dedication, enthusiasm, coaching setup and his limitless ambition, “Project 56” looks certain to be fulfilled.