Adam Peaty to look after his mental health with a break in same vein as Simone Biles and Ben Stokes

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Adam Peaty at the Tokyo Olympics - GETTY IMAGES
Adam Peaty at the Tokyo Olympics - GETTY IMAGES

Adam Peaty is planning to take an entire month out of the swimming pool to recharge and protect his mental health ahead of “a war of attrition” leading into the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Peaty and the rest of the British Swimming team will return to the United Kingdom on Monday and, citing the challenges being faced by Simone Biles in gymnastics and Ben Stokes in cricket, stressed the need for balance. He expects now to miss the International Swimming League (ISL), which starts in September, in favour of a mental and physical break ahead of World and European Championships, as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

“It’s been hard for everyone, for every sport out there," said Peaty. "It’s been very very tiring. I think what’s next is celebrating and having what Mel (Marshall, his coach) and me call a forced rest, where we’re not allowed to touch the water for a month now.

“It is going to be a war of attrition over the next three years, we’ve got three major championships next season, and you’ll see people who are falling off, who go all the way through ISL and World Cups, by the time they get to Paris. You’re seeing it in all sports now. You’re seeing it with Simone Biles. You’re seeing it with Ben Stokes. Mental health matters and it is about getting the balance right at that elite level. We love to celebrate, and why shouldn’t we?”

As well as preparing for the Olympics, Peaty has become a father for the first time and bought a house over what has been the most gruelling year of his life. Having ended the Olympics with two golds and one silver medal to add to a gold and silver in Rio, the 26-year-old also expects his priorities to shift over the next phase of his life.

Duncan Scott, Luke Greenbank, Adam Peaty and James Guy pose with their silver medals from the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. - GETTY IMAGES
Duncan Scott, Luke Greenbank, Adam Peaty and James Guy pose with their silver medals from the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. - GETTY IMAGES

“The amount of time that has been taken away from me with my partner and my boy – he doesn’t know it – but I want to make that time up,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy it, recover. I’m going to need all the energy I’ve got and all the downtime.

“I can’t believe how quick this year has gone, the amount of stuff we’ve gone through, the amount of challenges we came through, I was training down the local park for a while with Mel, that’s where we were, the whole country was in lockdown.”

Peaty hopes that his feats will also inspire a generation of swimmers and, with Swim England having revealed that two million children missed out on the chance to swim amid the closure of numerous pools during lockdown, called for the government to invest.

“Sport needs money, everyone knows that,” said Peaty. “If you look at since 2000, look where the medals have come from, it’s from the National Lottery and UK Sport.

“So there needs to be more investment than ever, to secure the next generation, especially in swimming where you’ve got swimming clubs who have to raffle and fundraise on their own.

“From my personal point of view, should the government be stepping in, should another body be stepping in to fund that? There’s going to be a lot of clubs closing down. Without the clubs, without the leisure centres, you can’t do this sport. And this sport is very expensive. I know that when I first started, my mum was looking paycheck to paycheck, how to make it work. Should we be doing that for the next generation of potential gold medal winners? That’s an open question to the people who provide the money.”

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