He just got a tattoo on his neck with the symbol of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. In recent weeks, however, another god has left a more significant mark on Adam Peaty.
“I go to church every Sunday,” the British swimmer reveals to Sports Mail. “It’s been a few months and it has certainly helped.
“It’s about being a better person. Not only being a better athlete and fulfilling my gift, but also being a better father to George. There are so many other reasons. It gets pretty deep. But it’s great to be part of.
Peaty reveals his newfound faith for the first time as he explains how a conversation with a priest – namely Olympic chaplain Ashley Null – helped him make sense of his mental health struggles.
“He said to me, ‘An Olympic gold medal is the coldest thing you’ll ever wear,'” recalls Peaty, who wore one at Rio 2016 and two at Tokyo 2020. “It’s so warm because you have reached your goal. , but at what cost ?
Adam Peaty opened up about his newfound faith and how it helped him beat alcoholism
Britain’s greatest ever swimmer goes to church every Sunday and thinks it helps him
Peaty thanked Olympic chaplain Ashley Null for helping him with his mental health issues
“Relationships are ending, your friends and family are on the back burner, even your own kids have to be on the back burner.
“As athletes, we expect a gold medal to solve all our problems because it’s the only thing that matters to us, in the sense of the professional result.” But as soon as you realize it doesn’t solve anything, it can be the coldest thing because you’ve sacrificed so much. You need to make sure to fix these issues.
That’s what Peaty has been doing since announcing in March that he was taking a break from competitive swimming because he was “tired” and “not enjoying the sport”. Besides going to church, he talked to psychologists and wrote a journal. He found a new purpose training kids at his AP Race Clinics, while clearing his head walking in national parks and running. The day before this interview in a fish restaurant overlooking the London stadium, he did a 10 km around the Olympic Park.
“I just took a moment to be honest with everything and to stop running away from my problems,” says the 28-year-old, who looks like a changed man with a mustache and earrings, as well as this new neck tattoo of Poseidon’s trident. .
“I was like, ‘Do I still love what I do? Not really. So how can I start loving her again? “. So I took a break, completely off for two or three weeks, physically. Now I’m training, but there’s not really a psychological load.
“It’s enjoying life for the first time with a bit of training, because normally it’s training with life on the side.” I have found a good balance over the past two months. I solved all my problems. Now I am happy and in a very healthy place.
So what brought this great champion – the greatest brewer of all time – to breaking point? It was, says Peaty, a “cumulative charge.” He mentions the extra exposure that came with his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021. “I just wasn’t used to it,” he says.
A bigger factor, however, was the foot injury he suffered during a training camp last May. He missed last year’s World Championships and then rushed to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where he could only finish fourth in the 100m breaststroke – his first significant defeat at the distance in eight years.
Peaty is one of the greatest athletes Britain has ever seen, having dominated swimming for years.
Peaty is back in training but admitted now ‘there is no real psychological burden’
“I should have taken a break, I shouldn’t have gone to the Commonwealths,” says Peaty. “I was fed up with this defeat. I was using it the wrong way.
Peaty, who bounced back to win the 50m in Birmingham, also struggled following the breakdown of her relationship with Eiri Munro, the mother of her two-year-old son George, last August.
“It was very difficult at first,” admits Peaty, who is now dating Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Holly. “Like many single parents, you struggle with guilt. You want to be together for the children or the child. It’s a four hour round trip, so it’s quite challenging. It’s very difficult to be a professional athlete and a current father, but I hope that one day he will understand.
Peaty has now found a “good balance” seeing George every week or two and is “very friendly” with Eiri. But it was while he was about 10,000 miles away from his son, training and racing halfway around the world during the winter that his struggles came to a head.
“It really hit me many times in Australia because I missed my home, I missed my family, I missed my boy,” Peaty says. ‘I said to myself: “Is it still worth doing this?”. I never had to have this conversation with myself. I said to myself: “I will go home, I am not really balanced here”.
Peaty was on what he calls a “self-destructive spiral”, which led him to alcohol, not for the first time in his career. “My brain wanted to escape and get out of what I was doing every day,” he explains.
“As an athlete, we have to take care of our bodies, what we eat, what we drink. I like to have a few with my friends because I consider it a normal social thing for me. But my brain was telling me that I should do it more and more.
The swimmer admitted he missed his family a lot during his stay in Australia in winter
“I remember after breaking the world record at the Europeans in 2018, I wanted to burn it and enjoy it and I took a break. But it was a very different approach.
“I was doing it for no real reason and I don’t really like it. It’s not as fun because you don’t want to do it and then you regret it. This destructive spiral is something I had to overcome. But I hope that in the next few months I will be back with a very good weight, a very good state of preparation for the championship, because I have a very big season ahead of me.
Peaty is referring to next year, which of course will culminate with the Paris Olympics. As for this year, he misses the main event, next month’s World Championships in Japan, and does not plan to return to racing until the fall.
“Withdrawing from the world championships was an easy decision for me because I know what matters to me, which is the Olympics,” said the eight-time world champion, who also struggled against tonsillitis this year and had his tonsils removed earlier this month. .
“I probably won’t watch it. Nothing productive can come of it. It’s just going to make me angry and agitated because I want to be there but I know why I’m not. Around September, October I’ll be back and we’ll be running a lot more than usual to make up for the races we’ve lost this summer.
Peaty is keen to enjoy his time off before ‘going back into battle’ as he aims for more success
“That’s why decompression really matters now, making sure we take full advantage of this little time we have to calm down before we get back into the fight.” Then we’ll start layering the cake – and hopefully by Paris we’ll have icing on the cake.
This cherry would be historic. If Peaty were to win in Paris, he would become only the second man to win the same swimming title in three successive Games. Could this be his greatest achievement given his recent fights? “I think so,” he said. “It would be a very special medal.
“It’s really hard to win once. It’s crazy to win twice. A third time? Only Michael Phelps did.
American legend Phelps, the most successful and decorated Olympian of all time, also suffered from depression and he and Peaty both suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “He’s someone I look up to,” Peaty says. “He went through ups and downs and won 23 gold medals. It just shows that we all go through this.
Before his lows, Peaty used to talk about “Project Immortal” – setting a time that can never be beaten. His 100m breaststroke world record of 56.88 seconds from 2019 remains around 0.92 seconds ahead of the second-fastest man in the event’s history, Dutchman Arno Kamminga. But are the records still in Peaty’s sights?
Peaty was appointed OBE by the Princess Royal in 2022 for his fantastic career accolades
“I will probably always find my way back to thinking about it and going there,” he admits.
“But it has to be more about the process and getting there, instead of obsessing over it. You must be happy and stable. I would never say never, but it has to be worth it.
“World records are world records for a reason. They are extremely difficult to achieve. And the ones I have set, they are extremely difficult to approach! To beat them, I have to fight and be the best possible version of myself, hence the pause and tactical retreat.
Perhaps Peaty’s new philosophy is best summed up by the phrases he got tattooed on his hands – “fuel your soul” and “enjoy the ride”.
“You have to continually fuel yourself with something or motivate yourself, but you can also enjoy the ride,” he adds.
“It’s about enjoying it, happiness and balance – and sharing that journey with people who are struggling. I hope through me they can see that you can rise up and be on top of the world again.
Bridgestone is proud to be a Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner through 2024. Adam Peaty is delighted to be an Ambassador for Bridgestone in the UK and launching the Prepare to Perform campaign. Bridgestone celebrates the hard work and dedication of athletes throughout their journey to the Games, helping them prepare to perform on their journey to Paris 2024.