Adam Peaty Welcomes Arno Kamminga To The Sub-58 Club With A Purr To The Perfection Of A 56.2 Roar
Arno Kamminga is a huge leap away from joining Adam Peaty in the sub-57 club but the sub-58 club has its second member after the Dutchman clocked 57.90 at the Netherlands Team Time Trials in Eindhoven Friday evening. The moment also marked the first time anyone else has got within a second of Peaty’s Rio 2016 winning time.
A clash of the sub-58 club is now on the cards at European Championships in mid-May but the Olympic champion’s thoughts are on Tokyo 2020 and his “further attack” (not defence) on his title. Before Kamminga’s latest progress, Peaty told State of Swimming:
“I want to go out there and, you know, do what I do and if I do perform then, yeah, I don’t think many people would get close and it’s really a question of who’s going to go under 58. I think this could be the first Olympics where someone could possibly sneak under 58 (beyond himself) if they have the perfect race on the big occasion. There’s some amazing talent coming through and I welcome that because it pushes me even further and it’s great to see the next generation of swimmers coming through. And that’s what you want in sport. You want a little bit of a push … you never know until the heats are done, then heats into semis and then you’ve got to be on your game for the final.”Adam Peaty – Rio 2016 Olympic gold in a stunning world-record time – photo by Patrick B. Kraemer/Magic PBK
The context of that interview and Peaty’s description of a sum that adds up to a 56.2-56.3 effort one perfect day, is below. Meanwhile, Kamminga has been on a constant flow of improvement since missing the final of the 100m at 2019 world titles. How season bests: 57.90, 2021; 58.43, 2020; 59.14, 2020; 59.76, 2018. His best two efforts unfolded Friday; his best nine efforts have all been clocked during Covid lockdown, 2020 and 2021.
A three-time European short-course champion, Kamminga took 0.01secs off his Dutch record in 58.42 in morning heats in Eindhoven. The warning given, the 25-year-old coached by Mark Faber at Amsterdam’s National Training Centre was out in 26.99, home in 30.91 to go into waters uncharted by breaststroke specialists until Adam Peaty went that way in 57.92 back in 2015 to bring the slowest stroke up to the speed of Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller on the fastest stroke, over 100m freestyle, in the 1920s.
Six long years and Peaty had notched up every title over 100m available to him, including the Olympic crown and taken the speed of breaststroke a relative light year ahead of his rivals, at 56.88, at World Championships in 2019.
Earlier this week, Peaty, at the helm of the 2021 World rankings with his 57.37 from last week at Britain’s Olympic trials when unrested, said that it was “inevitable” that others would go below 58 and he was “looking forward to it … it’s good to have the competition”. He also noted, however, that 57 was not a zone he had in mind and that as things stood, if all things went as well as they could he might one day get down to a 56.2. That is unlikely to be required for Tokyo gold.
A delighted Kamminga said he was now looking forward to Monday and the start of his taper for European Championships in mid-May, when he will finally get to race Peaty in a long-course pool in peak form for the first time since World Championships in 2019, when Peaty set the world record in 56.88 in the semi-final that saw Kamminga finish seventh in 59.49.
Peaty took the crown the next day on 57.14 and until Kamminga’s effort, had held the best 20 times ever. Now the Dutchman is performer No 2 with performance No 15, set in time-trial conditions:
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Kamminga told reporters in Eindhoven: “I still can’t quite comprehend it. I had known for a long time that this was in it. I trained very well in the past year, but it just didn’t quite work out in races. That was sometimes frustrating.”
His latest swim had confirmed there had been a change: “I notice that I am stronger than ever, a bit heavier and fitter than ever. I have better stamina and can keep it up very easily. Usually I can’t lose the strength, but today I had the control to lose everything and to give everything. “
Kamminga, who today followed up with a 2:07.71 in a 200m time trial (2:06.85 is his Dutch record), had a sub-58 in mind for Tokyo, not just yet. He told NOS (report and race video):
“I had put such a time in my agenda for Tokyo. Of course, that’s still out there. I was in the group with a few other swimmers who all swam a bit the same. I’ve now taken half a second away from that, which is very nice.”Arno Kamminga – photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK
With a nod to Peaty, Kamminga said: “Anything can happen if you’re next to him. I reduced the gap from one and a half seconds to one second. I hope he will have a bad night’s sleep on this.”
Fine progress – but forlorn hope, perhaps.
Peaty is in a unique situation. I put that to the Olympic champion, a man who has a big advantage on his closest rivals, not just on the clock but in racing too, as seven years of dominant 100m peak-performance efforts have shown. How then to approach Tokyo with a gain on others significantly beyond that enjoyed by any other 100m swimmer on any other stroke? Was he thinking about what he’d prepared to do, focus on his own goal? Did he given any thought to the folk either side of him? Most others, if not all, take that with them to the blocks, plus they know the guy in the next lane is 0.1-0.2 away. What is it that he takes to the blocks?
Peaty provides an answer stacked with insight of the kind others can only regard, cannot control, may even envy in terms of the clarity of position and the cutting edge of drive at the heart of it all. He tells State of Swimming:
“I agree, yeah, there’s a certain method to the madness, believe it or not. When I perform, yeah, you’re completely right: I do think about my own performance and think about how I’m gonna get the best process and get the best out of myself but it’s not as simple as I wish it was. For me, I don’t really go out there for myself, not anymore anyway. I go out there for my son, I go out there for my family, I go out there for the people who have supported me, for the team, and most importantly at an Olympics, you go out there for your country.”Adam Peaty – image courtesy of Georgie Kerr, for British Swimming
On his way to seeking a gold that would make him the first British swimmer ever to retain an Olympic swimming titles, Peaty speaks softly, gently. The hint is the big cat tattoo draped over his shoulder: within, there’s a roar of roars waiting for its day. He purrs:
“So, down that last 50, at the Olympic Games, I know I’ve got the whole country on my back and behind me and people would think that is a pressure and people might think ‘I don’t want the pressure’ but I’m like: ‘if you want to be the best in the world you got to take that and welcome it and find a way to perform. Pretty much every interview I’m asked ‘can you deal with the pressure going in and defend the Olympic title’ but I think I’m one of the most chilled out people who could possibly do it.”
Peaty beams and adds. “That’s just me. I’m very chilled and I know exactly what process I’ve got to go through, such as trials: I used to get nervous for trials thinking ‘what if I don’t do this or don’t do that’ but I’m now so laid-back and I think having our son just makes me appreciate these moments a little bit more. There’s only more freedom that can come from this now, so I’m excited to race it at the Olympics with the knowledge and the experience and the wisdom that I’ve got and gathered over the last five years.
“It’s the Olympic Games, guys, you know, it’s fun. I think, win or lose, nothing really changes in a sense. I’m just completely free. So, going back to your original question, of course, I’m aware of the competition, but I’m not focusing on them.”Adam Peaty – Six golden seasons in the bag, a seventh underway for Adam Peaty – snapped by Gary McCaffery on a training camp in Tenerife – courtesy of Gmcphotography.org
Dominance. There’s gold and there’s goal. He hints at process-soaked goal and control being the stuff that delivers the gold that non-one can control. He says:
“For me there’s two ways: I train like I’m in second but I perform like I’m in first and its a very fine switch. When I train up and down every single day I put myself in a position where I’m training to win but when I’m racing, I’m racing to dominate – and that’s not an arrogant thing … it’s just a mindset that we built up. It’s that certain difference between going out to get gold and get the win by 0.04 from the next guy. There’s a difference between going out there and going ‘I’m going out there to dominate’.”Adam Peaty – by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming
The add is the quote used up top in this feature: “For me, it’s yeah, I want to go out there and, you know, do what I do and if I do perform then, yeah, I don’t think many people would get close and it’s really, you know, who’s going to go on the 58? I think this could be the first Olympics where someone could possibly sneak on the 58 (beyond himself), if they have the perfect race. There’s some amazing talent coming through and I welcome that because it pushes me even further and it’s great to see the next generation of swimmers coming through. And that’s what you want in sport. You want a little bit of a push … you never know until the heats are done, then heats into semis and then you’ve got to be on your game for the final.”
Adam Peaty & The Perfect 100m Breaststroke As A Sum Of All His Swiftest Parts
No swimmer will spell out their goal precisely but some generalities are obvious. In the grander scheme of things, Tokyo or beyond, where did he think he might be able to taken 100m speed?
“We have done the sums. If it went absolutely perfect and all the fastest parts I’ve done in a physical race are put together, then we’ve worked out that’s 56.2 or 56.3, which is absolutely ridiculous. But you never say never: you’ve got to put the marker somewhere. I’m not saying I’m going to go that, before it makes a headline, but I do believe I can get faster than the world record. That was 2019. We’ve had Covid-19 this past year but my preparation is much better and much more focused, much more ‘just hungry for it’. I think having that time off through Covid has given me a bit of a second wind that I’ve needed.”Adam Peaty – courtesy of arena
A second wind for a man on 56.88. Cue collective shudder in the rudder of the breaststroke chasers with an eye on a vintage that will demand a match of his sporting maturity from any who aspire to be within the danger zone before the decisive crash into pad that delivers a result eternal.