Adam Peaty: Olympic champion passing on pressure and putting party time to bed

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No danger of complacency - Peaty

There is no escaping 5am starts, lung-crushing 50m sprint sets, relentless double training sessions designed to push the body to the limit and the added bonus of punishing gym routines.

At the age of 14, with a taste of what could be in store, future reigning Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic champion Adam Peaty was pretty sure the swimmer's life was not for him.

"I remember it was a Sunday evening and we used to do a double session on Sundays so it was a full training day," breaststroke specialist Peaty told BBC Sport from his new training base in Loughborough.

"I was in the gym doing 3,000 reps of everything, burpees and press ups until I was goosed.

"I got into the car and said to my mum: 'I don't want to do this any more, I want to quit'. She said just keep going until the end of the next week and so on each week."

A mother's wisdom involving some cleverly-timed mind games kept the teenage Peaty sweet enough to see the hard work begin to pay off.

But the 22-year-old is clear in his mind that his long-serving coach Mel Marshall - now the National Lead Centre Coach at Loughborough - takes considerable credit for his incredible transformation from a kid "whose times weren't the best" to the world's best.

Adam Peaty celebrates Olympic gold
The feeling of becoming an Olympic champion

Marshall's appointment as head coach at the City of Derby Swimming Club in November 2008 was the start of an incredible journey for both of them.

"It was insane when I first started," explained Peaty. "I was making up for time I had lost, I was racing kids who had been racing for ages, who had that experience and fitness on me.

"But as soon as I started to get the ball rolling with Mel, that was when it popped and everything kind of blew up."

Peaty plays catch-up

In swimming terms, only taking the sport completely seriously at the age of 14 meant he had some catching up to do.

Many top-level swimmers have been sampling the delights of six or seven sessions per week and ungodly alarm calls since before they have reached double digits.

"I speak to a lot of kids and parents and they are throwing their kids into 4am training at eight, nine and 10 years old," said Peaty.

"It's weird because, for me, I think I have been successful because I haven't had that grilling from a young age."

It is no wonder that swimming is seen as a very young person's sport and that it is commonplace for retirement to come in the mid-20s.

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington finished in 2013 at the age of 23, while one of the world's best sprinters Fran Halsall called time on a glittering career at the age of 26 in January.

Francesca Halsall
Fran Halsall retired in January after a 10-year international career

"Some of the best athletes in the world are the late starters," said Uttoxeter-born Peaty. "Maybe they have more energy because they haven't been doing it for so long.

"As soon as I left school, I wanted to do it professionally and here I am.

"I am enjoying it a lot more from 16 or 17, whereas kids who have done it from a young age - sometimes, not always - are burning out at 16 or 17 and want to do other things like hang out with their mates, go to the cinema and at 18 go to the pub."

Party in the past

The rare possibility of a few drinks at the pub was part of the post-Rio partying process. An entire month off was as needed as it was welcomed.

And Peaty is feeling the benefit.

"We needed that emotional and physical break so we can repair everything," he explained.

"You can have a bit of downtime and enjoy having a little bit of a normal life. We don't drink and eat bad food when we are training. To go and party and celebrate the proper way was so needed."

Another significant change has been Peaty's relocation, which has seen him move house from the Derby area to be within 10 minutes of his Loughborough training base. The improved facilities and cutting down on travelling has been a big help.

"My times are really good for this time of year. It's looking good to say the least," he said.

"My performance has gone up again, which is great to hear at the start of another four-year cycle. I personally think I have got stronger. I am lifting more in the gym and am swimming faster for longer."

Adam Peaty and Mel Marshall
Marshall's success with Peaty has defined her coaching career but she says the 22-year-old still has much more to give

Marshall concurs.

"In the water he is certainly not holding back," said his coach of nine and a half years. "I am seeing him do things recently that he has never done before. It's very exciting.

"I want to really harness things that are special. We have got a history and have been through a lot together so I want to keep those elements, but I also want us to grow as a relationship.

Marshall says Peaty has embraced his celebrity and success but remains grounded and humble.

But there are differences.

"He drives a really nice car now," she said. "He has changed but for the better; he copes with the media really well, he gives back to the community, he gets involved in charity challenges, he's a good role model and always has time for everybody.

"In terms of those things you are looking for from an Olympic champion, he really exercises those on a regular basis."

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From fear of water to world champion - meet Adam Peaty

There seems little risk of complacency from either Marshall or Peaty.

"Mel is always the first one to ground you," said Peaty. "Even if you think you will have a little bit of a walk, she says: 'Oi you, get in the pool and do this'. That is the way I like it. That is the way to have to work if you want to be professional.

"I want to get into the pool every single day and not care about what I have done in the past. I want to look to the future and this is how I get a better future. That is the way I see it."

Taking on the world and passing on the pressure

The chance and desire to defend his many titles means Peaty has more than enough goals to focus on during the next four-year Olympic cycle.

"It's weird because it's starting again," he said. "It's my second time around.

"I'm getting older and I'm becoming one of the more experienced ones in the group. I'm not that kid who was trying to take on the world and be everything at the same time.

"Now I'm wiser and a bit more experienced. I know where to put my energy and I know where to put my emotions - and hopefully it will come out with more wins."

Adam Peaty
Only some carefully timed and cleverly worded advice from his mother Caroline stopped Adam Peaty giving up swimming at the age of 14

Peaty says pressure is something that "pushes him", rather than holding him back.

"I never ever feel pressure," he said.

"I think that was why I could go into my first Olympics, race and get a world record and I could go into an Olympic final and not really treat it as an Olympic final - except from the last 50 where I was possessed.

"You have to open your mind up to that positivity and fill your mind with the positive thoughts.

"And the positive thought this time is I am the Olympic champion, world champion, European champion and Commonwealth champion.

"I have the world record and that is probably what the competitors are thinking about, so it's their thing to worry about and mine to gain confidence from."

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