WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Adam Peaty’s biggest challenge over the last 12 months has not been in the pool but in becoming a critic of world governing body FINA and demanding a greater share of the revenue generated by the sport for his fellow swimmers.
The 24-year-old Briton ran afoul of FINA late last year when he criticised their decision not to sanction the International Swimming League (ISL), a privately organised competitive series, or involve swimmers in their decision making.
“(FINA) need to listen to the athletes and hear what they want instead of saying ‘you need it this way,’” he told the BBC last December about the impasse. “The whole sport needs to change and that’s something I’m very passionate about.”
He also challenged FINA to ban him and after the threat of legal action from ISL, the governing body agreed to allow the competition to proceed, ensuring the breaststroke world and Olympic champion would be on the blocks at Gwangju.
It is a major boost for organisers given Peaty’s breaststroke sprint dominance.
The Briton was unbeaten in four years over the 50 and 100 until last April when South African Cameron van der Burgh stormed off the blocks at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to beat him in the shorter event.
Peaty, who trains under former Olympic swimmer Mel Marshall at Loughborough University, is still in a class of his own in the 100.
He is the only person to have broken the world record since van der Burgh in 2012, breaking his own record three more times. His current record of 57.10 was set at last year’s European championships in Glasgow.
Belarusian Ilya Shymanovich is the second fastest swimmer of all time with 58.29, which he swam in Marseilles in March.
Peaty, however, has since bettered that twice. He clocked 57.87 in April and 58.15 in Barcelona last month and now holds the 14 fastest times in history.
He has also abandoned plans to add the 200 to his schedule, stating in April that his powerful build and short stroke make him more ideal for sprinting.
The five-times world champion, who has in recent times dampened down the talk of his ‘Project 56’ of becoming the first man to break 57 seconds for the 100, added that he still had boundaries to push in the sprint distances.
“I want to focus on pushing the boundaries in the 100,” Peaty told the BBC in April. “I’ve changed my mindset and don’t really talk about ‘Project 56’ now, but it’s looking nice.
“I’m pleased with the progress, so that progress will show at the World Championships or Olympics.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford