After Great Britain’s Adam Peaty set a new world record of 26.62 seconds in the 50m breaststroke at the LEN European Championships on Friday, he revealed that he had hated swimming as a child.
The 19-year-old took 0.05 seconds off Cameron van der Burgh’s world record from the 2009 World Championships, when the era of the performance-enhancing supersuits was at its peak.
It is a far cry from the little boy who was so scared of water he would not go in the bath or the shower and “hated the pool.”
He overcame his fears and the past weeks have been a fairytale — a well-deserved one — for the Englishman won two golds and one silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
His coach, Mel Marshall — winner of world, European and Commonwealth medals — gave him four days off after his exertions in Scotland, but Peaty texted her asking if he could return to training earl to prepare for the Europeans.
He came to Berlin and won the 100m breaststroke, in addition to being part of the Great Britain mixed medley relay squad that set a new world record on the same evening on Friday.
His world record came in the second semi-final, prompting a look of disbelief from the teenager sat on the lane rope blinking as he absorbed the information on the scoreboard.
“I feel absolutely amazing. I had to look at that scoreboard about five times before I knew I had broken it. I haven’t got any words for it,” the Briton said.
However, Peaty knows he still has hard work to do with the final to come, even though his record overshadowed a night that provided some quality racing.
Florent Manaudou became the first European this year to dip under the 48-second mark as he won the 100m freestyle, his third title of the meet.
Manaudou led a French one-two with teammate Fabien Gilot. Italian Luca Leonardi came third.
The Frenchman was fastest into the final and he led from start to finish to touch in 47.98, only the third man under the 48-second mark this year, with Gilot finishing in 48.36, 0.02 seconds ahead of Leonardi.
Only world champion James Magnussen and Commonwealth silver medalist Cameron McEvoy — both Australian — had dipped under 48 seconds this year before Friday.
Jeanette Ottesen upset Sarah Sjostrom’s hopes of a third individual title when she held off the Swede in the 100m butterfly.
Sjostrom had already won the 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle, as well as relay silver and gold.
However, the Dane was too strong, stamping herself on the race from the first stroke and she was in no mood to let go, staving off Sjostrom in a championship record of 56.51.
Rikke Moeller Pedersen completed the breaststroke double by adding the 200m to the 100m title she won on Wednesday.
The Dane was the clear favorite going into the final and she was 0.06 seconds under world record-pace at the final turn before tiring in the last meters, her time of 2 minutes, 19.84 seconds — a Championship record and 0.73 seconds off her own mark from the World Championships last year.
Great Britain’s Molly Renshaw destroyed the British record for second place in 2 minutes, 23.82 seconds with Jessica Vall Montero.
Gregorio Paltrinieri confirmed his place in the elite of distance swimming after claiming his second title of the week with victory in the 800m freestyle.
Paltrinieri had propelled himself into the upper echelons with victory in the 1500m freestyle on Wednesday.
On Friday, he won the 800m in a championship record 7:44:98, 3.51 seconds ahead of Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands, with fellow Italian Gabriele Detti picking up his second bronze medal of the week.
Italy won the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay in a European record of 3:25.02 in an event that was only introduced last year.
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