What Is Adam Peaty’s Top Speed in Breaststroke?

British breaststroker, Olympic gold medalist, and World Record holder Adam Peaty is the best men’s 100 breaststroker who has ever lived. By a totality of relevant measures, including dominance over his peer group, that is true.

Late last year, he announced plans for his ‘Project Immortal,’ which is his effort to lock that title up forever.

This has raised lots of questions about what time would be immortal, untouchable,  So far, most of that conversation has revolved around strong opinions, educated guesses, and hopeful wishes. But Peaty lit up the swimosphere this week by posting videos of his training in the pool-treadmill at Top Training Tenerife in Spain.

There, he reached a top burst speed of 2.15 meters/second. Calculating that out would come to about a 46.51 over 100 meters. If we account for turn speed (which we can actually do, thanks to Steffano Nurra’s analysis here), where Peaty is about 6% faster than he is over-water, that saves him maybe another three-tenths of a second (though his current speed on the turn is actually slower than his 2.15 meters/second top speed).

Of course, nobody can maintain this kind of a chaotic top speed for a full 100 meters, but think of this as swimming’s 40 yard dash: what is the absolute maximum speed attainable by one of the world’s best?

Peaty maintains the speed for about 6 strokes. In his 2016 World Record swim, he took 46 strokes.

In his 2019 World Record swim (56.88), Peaty’s fastest 5 meters above the water were into the turn. There, he had an average speed of 1.79 meters/second.

So what is Peaty’s theoretical maximum speed? Somewhere between 46 and 56 seconds, it seems. Now he and his coach Mel Marshall have to ask a crucial question: is the best way to improve his time over 100 meters to improve his top-end 6-stroke burst-speed, to improve his ability to maintain his 1.79 meters/second current top speed in the 100 for longer, or some combination of the two, to improve his World Record.

Regardless of which they choose, the continued evolution of data collection in swimming is clearly an unmissable tool for modern uber-elites like Peaty, where the improvements come by the milliseconds and where every single wrinkle and wiggle of the stroke is meaningful.

Peaty, as such an outlier in the sport’s most-technical stroke, might have the most-analyzed stroke in history.

Here’s the above-water video:

Here’s a below-water view:

 

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Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Curious as to how the 2.15m/s is determined. Is that just what the treadmill’s set to? Or is there some sort of tracking going on? (Because he does get pushed back a good amount, would have to at least figure out how far back he ends up and how long it takes for him to get back there.)

It was only like 5 seconds of swimming, so it’d have a pretty good impact on velocity I think.

Yabo
1 month ago

That link does not go to anything remotely related to turn analysis haha, but idk maybe I’ve missed something

Yabo
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Thank you!!

Drewbrewsbeer
1 month ago

I’ve wondered since playing tag in the lazy river, decades ago, what exact changes in the physics of swimming when you add the flow of water to the parameters. I find the catch phase and overall drag effects are quite different than when swimming in ‘stable’ water.
Heck, even warm vs cool water is noticeable!

The Original Tim
Reply to  Drewbrewsbeer
1 month ago

I had a series of technique lessons a few years ago in an endless pool and I wasn’t a fan. Even when staying perfectly within the flume, it was very different from swimming in clean water.

I also had to focus on staying inside the flume, so I wonder how different it would be in a much wider flume like the one Peaty swam in?

Yabo
Reply to  Drewbrewsbeer
1 month ago

If you can answer this mathematically you’ve won yourself a millienium prize cuz you just solved navier stokes

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Yabo
1 month ago

Not cool to make people Google on SwimSwam.

Drewbrewsbeer
Reply to  Yabo
1 month ago

Time to dust off the TI-84!

Old Creaky Peaty
1 month ago

That’s irrelevant now, because he peaked between 2017-2019 (his all-time fastest 50m breaststroke performance was almost 5 years ago).

Scotty
Reply to  Old Creaky Peaty
1 month ago

He knows he would soon be beaten… that’s why he is tightening up

Swimmer
Reply to  Old Creaky Peaty
1 month ago

Yeah let’s hear more about lochte! 🙄

Jacob Whittle 46.90 in Paris
Reply to  Old Creaky Peaty
1 month ago

Caleb Dressel’s all time fastest 50 was 3 years ago

Tiny hands
Reply to  Jacob Whittle 46.90 in Paris
1 month ago

He tied his AR at trials last year, 21.04.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Old Creaky Peaty
1 month ago

Project Mortal.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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