Adam Peaty, one of the best swimmers in the world, has been banned from swimming – by his Strictly dance partner Katya Jones.
The triple Olympic gold medallist has temporarily changed his focus from the pool to the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor.
“I’m not swimming at all, not just yet – Katya won’t let me swim,” Peaty reveals.
“I just have to do training and dancing all the time. But by the end of October, I’m probably going to have to swim, obviously I’ve got future championships that I want to win, and I want to get a balance.
“I do miss the swimming now and then, if I can’t get a dance move right. I miss the swimming because I’m good at it – but I also love dancing,” he admits.
Peaty, 26, made history at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics when he became the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title, in the 100m breaststroke. And he’s now – albeit temporarily – transferred the single-mindedness and dedication needed to become an Olympic great to mastering his fancy footwork.
“There’s a lot of training for Strictly – it’s pretty much every day – and a lot of hours spent around the show as well, with filming and interviews,” he says.
“It’s very demanding, but it’s going to be – it’s dancing, people do this for 25-30 years of their life, and to try and get up to speed with that, you have to put in the hours. But I’m having fun.”
So, how does this phenomenal swimmer and now snake-hipped dancer, who is also a dad to one-year-old son George with girlfriend Eirianedd Munro, find the energy?
“My diet is very, very wide, because I have to get so much food in. I try to keep it balanced, but also quite new – it’s all about protein for me, and I love soya yoghurt and custard,” says Peaty.
A few years ago, he tried going completely vegan but says he eventually abandoned the idea because he lost muscle mass.
The motivations behind the move are still important to him though, and he says he’s “not fully vegan or fully vegetarian but I try and implement them into my life,” and doesn’t rule out trying an entirely plant-based diet again at some point.
“We all need to wake up and play our part in terms of our environmental input. I used to eat red meat up to three times a week, but now I eat it rarely, maybe once every three or four weeks. I think our diets will naturally shift to that. I think people get it wrong, where they have to be vegan and that’s it.”
That’s balance with diet sorted, but what about finding balance between work and play. How does he like to relax? “Dancing, at the moment,” he says, laughing. “Dancing is my relaxation and my work.
“To be honest, I relax through music – I’ve always loved music and engage with it to manipulate my energy and understand life a little bit more – and films, if I get the chance to watch one. But I usually get in most days at 9pm so I don’t have any chance to relax, and I’m always away.
“Free time is a scarce resource in my life, and it’s gone even more scarce now. All my energy is going into my work – my dancing. It’s difficult, very difficult, especially when you’ve got a young boy – but that’s what I have to do,” he admits. “I’m not really getting much time to see my son. It’s hard being a dad, but obviously the most rewarding and brilliant thing that I’ve ever done. I make decisions now based on how he’s going to perceive it – what matters in the long-term for him. It’s less self and more him.”
Peaty says he’s looking forward to George being able to watch him swim at the Paris Olympics in 2024 – and even the LA Olympics in 2028.
“As I live, I leave a legacy – whether that’s good or bad is about perspective – and I want to make sure that my decisions are the right ones,” stresses the proud dad.