Rio-bound world champion Adam Peaty gave Britain their first swimming gold of the European aquatics championships on Tuesday with the fastest time of the year in the 100 metres breaststroke.
The 21-year-old world record holder, still in hard training and unshaven, then went back into the pool and did it again to help the hosts end the night with another gold in the non-Olympic 4×100 mixed medley relay alongside Fran Halsell, Chris Walker-Hebborn and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor.
While Peaty’s time of 58.36 seconds was well off his 2015 record of 57.92, it was quicker than he had expected given that he was treating the event as a training exercise.
“I’m in one of the hardest training blocks but I can still produce a 58.3 or 58.6 on demand,” he told Reuters. “That’s a good sign for me.”
Peaty will make his Olympic debut in Rio in August as Britain’s hottest prospect in the pool. He does not lack confidence.
“It is going to be a good race in Rio because Britain is looking in a very strong place,” he said. “I don’t shiver in the pressure, I thrive in the arena so come Rio we can hopefully nail it.”
Peaty was well ahead at the turn and touched out 1.37 seconds ahead of compatriot Ross Murdoch, the 2015 world silver medallist, in a British one-two. Lithuania’s Giedrius Titenis took bronze in 1:00.10.
The medals represented a better haul in one race than British male swimmers managed in the same pool during the 2012 London Olympics, where they came away with only a solitary silver.
“We are going to be on top strength,” Peaty said of Rio.
“My stroke just feels like it’s in a really great place. It feels strong and I’m feeling even better within myself. I didn’t think I’d go under a minute so to do it twice in one week just shows where I am.
“I’m happy with that race, coming out in front of the home crowd gave me a real buzz and such a great feeling. Thanks to everyone for supporting me and the team.”
Sprinter Ben Proud touched home third in the Men’s 50m Butterfly final to claim bronze for Britain in a time of 23.34.
“I’ve really been working on getting the whole of my race right and achieved that to 45m so that’s positive. I do that event to have fun so it’s a great way to open my week.
“Later this week I’m swimming the 50m and 100m Freestyle which is obviously my main focus.
The European title and gold medal was taken by Ukraine’s Andriy Govorov and silver went to Laszlo Cseh of Hungary.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, who may enter six events in Rio, took her second gold in two days with the women’s 200 metres backstroke. The world champion won the 400m individual medley on Monday.
France’s Camille Lacourt, silver medallist at the 2015 world championships and fourth at the 2012 London Olympics, took the men’s 100 metres backstroke gold in 53.79 seconds.
World champion and record holder Sarah Sjoestroem of Sweden retained her title in the non-Olympic women’s 50 metres butterfly in 24.99 seconds.