During last week’s British Swimming Selection Trials, Adam Peaty had his job done on the first day. He set an impressive 57.70 in the heats, and clocked an even more impressive time 57.39 in the final, the fifth and 10th-fastest performances of all-time. With these two swims, he has now swum the 20-fastest times on record in the event, 15 of those being sub-58 swims.
And perhaps equally impressive is the fact that Peaty managed again to register sub-31 back-half splits: 30.83 in the heats, 30.70 during the final. Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published the fastest back-half splits in history of the men’s 100 breaststroke, seen below. Peaty’s 30.70 from last week checks in as the 10th-fastest in history, and he now owns six of the 10 fastest ever.
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It’s not easy an easy thing coming home sub-31 – few swimmers have done it. Usually, swimmers who come home the fastest are those who are great 200 breast swimmers, like Kosuke Kitajima, Daniel Gyurta, and, more recently, Anton Chupkov and Arno Kamminga. They don’t have as much speed on the front half, but they are able to pull away at the end with very strong closing meters.
Peaty, however, is an entirely different beast. He manages to be the fastest man in the first 50 meters AND on the second 50. In fact, he is the only active swimmer who has managed to have a sub-27 opening 50 and a sub-31 back-half.
When Peaty broke the 100 breast world record at the 2019 World Championships, his time in the first 50 meters was a very strong 26.63 – a time that only Peaty himself went faster than in the 50 breaststroke event. After such an impressive opening split, most swimmers would die on the second half, but not Peaty. In fact, he registered the fastest back-half ever: 30.25.
It’s interesting noting that, in the last three times he broke the world record, he registered the three fastest back-half splits ever.
And it’s also interesting seeing how his stroke and efficiency is changing over the years. He has been known for his insanely high stroke-count. He takes more strokes than anyone in the pool without losing efficiency and without wearing out.
But the stroke count is not as high as it used to be a few years ago, at least during the second 50.
When we won the 100 breast at the 2015 World Championships, his stroke count on the back-half was 27. When he broke world records at the 2016 Olympics and the 2018 European Championships, this count was 25. And, finally, at the 2019 World Championships and the 2021 British Olympic Trials, he came home in 23 strokes.
Undoubtedly he is improving his efficiency per stroke in the last 50 meters, something every swimmer aims to achieve. And he continues to improve his times. Will we see him complete the second half of the 100 breast in an unbelievable sub-30-second in Tokyo? We’ll have to wait and see. The show must go on.