In the sprint breaststroke races, things have looked a lot like a two-man show as of late.
Last summer, Australian Christian Sprenger and South African Cameron van der Burgh split the 50 and 100 meter races, battling each other for touchouts while thoroughly dominating the rest of the fields.
So far this year, they’ve held the top two times in the world in both distances since early April, appearing on a course to keep the spotlight to themselves for another season.
But 19-year-old Brit Adam Peaty has been making a big run at that spotlight, and last weekend he finally broke through to put himself smack-dab in the middle of the Sprenger-van der Burgh battlefield.
Peaty is still young and on the rise. After making his first European Junior Championship team in 2012, he’s been steadily improving, making a name for himself on the international stage until Sunday, when he found his name in the headlines.
At the Barcelona stage of the Mare Nostrum circuit, Peaty blasted out a 59.25 to win the 100 breaststroke, touching out his countryman Ross Murdoch and putting up the second-fastest time in the world for 2014. That time, in fact, would have earned him a bronze medal at last summer’s Worlds, making him the closest follower of the Sprenger-van der Burgh train.
That was 2013. In 2014, Peaty sits even higher than third. That 59.25 actually ranks him number two: right between Sprenger (58.87) and van der Burgh (59.50). And if that’s not symbolic of a young swimmer throwing his hat into what once looked like a two-man race, I’m not sure what is.
The accolades are starting to pile up now for Peaty. His swim was a British record (he also broke the British 50 breast record one Mare Nostrum stop earlier, in Canet). He was the British national champion earlier this year to stake out his spot on the national team.
And because of that, he’ll get a chance to take on Sprenger and van der Burgh head-to-head at the Commonwealth Games, a showdown that’s already shaping up to be something HardCore.
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