Adam Peaty admitted that the Tokyo 2020 Games feel “weird” and very different to a normal Olympics as he set the eighth fastest time in history to move into the 100m breaststroke semi-finals.
Peaty promised there was plenty more in the tank after winning his heat in 57.56sec – nearly a quarter of a second clear of his closest rival Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands – but accepted that it had been an unusual experience given the lack of crowds.
“Heats are heats,” said Peaty, who will swim in the semi-finals early on Sunday morning. “I always have cobwebs – it’s pretty much the exact same time I did in Rio – and I was able to build on that. We will just see where we go from here.
“But I was a bit shaky off the start. For some reason I was gripping it a bit too hard. But there are a lot of variables when it comes to an Olympics. You try and control as many as you can but there are some you can’t control. We were very delayed tonight. It’s very hot. But that’s how we adapt into the semis and hopefully adapt into the final.”
On the eve of these Games, the British swimming legend Mark Foster claimed that Peaty, who has not lost over this distance for eight years, was even more dominant than Usain Bolt at his peak.
Foster also pointed out the reason why Peaty is so good: because his ankles turn out and his knees hyperextend, which means he is kicking under the water in a way that’s never been done before.
Unsurprisingly Peaty now believes he can kick on even further by breaking his world record again, and said he was encouraged by the fact it was a fast pool. But he added: “It’s really weird with no crowd, really weird. But that’s the psychological thing we need to adapt to. I had no idea how it was going to feel out there. I’m glad the cobwebs are out now.
“It doesn’t feel like an Olympics,” he added. “It’s not the same. Of course it’s not. But obviously when you go back to the village, that’s when it does. So it’s about controlling all of those emotions and performing when it matters.”
Britain will have two swimmers in the breaststroke semi-finals with James Wilby qualifying as sixth-fastest. And there was a welcome surprise for Britain in the women’s 400m individual medley as Aimee Willmott qualified second-fastest behind the American Emma Weyant.
However there was a shock for home fans in the men’s 400m IM as the Japanese favourite Daiya Seto failed to reach the final. The four-times world champion, who was only able to compete at the Games after avoiding a ban for having an extra-marital affair, was nowhere near his best as he touched the wall in 4:10.52. That put him ninth overall – one place below Britain’s Max Litchfield, who sneaked into the final after coming eighth.