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Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty talks winning gold in Rio and his childhood fear of water

By Will Stroude

Adam Peaty has spoken about the “10 shots of adrenaline” he felt winning an Olympic gold medal.

The 22-year-old swimmer, who won Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke at the 2016 Rio Games and holds three world records, is at the top of his game.

In the Summer issue of Attitude – available to download and in shops now – Adam discusses his early fear of water, competing with his teammates, and giving away one of his medals to a young fan.

At 6ft 3in, weighing 89kgs during race days, and with a tiny waist, epically broad shoulders, huge hands and flexible knees, he’s a natural-born swimmer. However, Adam hasn’t always enjoyed being in the pool.

“I used to go in with my mum, then crawl up her arm and do anything to get out of the water,” he says. “Eventually, when I saw my mates were enjoying it, I relaxed a bit. But as a kid I didn’t even like having showers!”

As part of Team GB, Adam competes against his own teammates as well as athletes from other countries. He admits that there is a lot of rivalry, but his focus is on making himself stand out.

“The key moment for me was when I was on one of these swimming camps where all the top juniors make it to the senior level,” he tells us.

“When we arrived at the first session, they asked who wanted to go first. Everyone was just standing back but I volunteered. You’ve got to be the first to stand up on those blocks and say: ‘I’m gonna lead this.’”

Adam won the first gold medal for Team GB at Rio in 2016. “It was crazy,” Adam says, looking back on his win. “I did my first heat and was like: ‘I’ve never felt quite as I did on that last 50m’, because obviously you can hear the crowd but only when you come up. So I was down, silence, and then when I came back up there was a roar — you could just feel the energy and the atmosphere.

“I remember touching the side, turning underwater and seeing everyone behind me and thinking: ‘You can’t bottle this now.’ It gave me 10 shots of adrenaline and I went for it.”

As important as winning is to Adam, he doesn’t seem overly concerned with the medals themselves. In fact, at the British Championships recently he gave his gold medal to a young fan in the crowd.

“I don’t know how to say this without sounding arrogant”, he says, “but because I’ve won so many, it doesn’t mean that much to have the actual hardware whereas for a kid in the crowd it could mean the world to him.

“For me it’s all about titles and qualifications, whereas for him it’s about his future — he might look at that medal and think he can do the same.”

You can see Adam’s full shoot and interview in the summer issue of Attitude – out now. Buy in printsubscribe or download.

Interview by Adam Duxbury
Photography by Daniel Jaems
Fashion by Joseph Kocharian
Location: The Spa at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel

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