ONE man’s name is on everybody’s lips when it comes to the Team GB Olympic swimming squad.
Adam Peaty is an athlete Sheffield’s Max Litchfield knows well, having swam with the City of Derby star in his junior days.
A decade later, world champion Peaty is poised to take the South American Games by storm, with the 21-year-old a 4-11 favourite to win the men’s 100m breaststroke after bursting onto the scene in 2014 and 2015. Litchfield is still in the same year as his breakthrough moment after winning at this year’s national championships – but now sees no reason why he cannot follow Peaty’s lead.
Litchfield is one of four Yorkshire swimmers heading to Rio, along with Sheffield club-mate Ellie Faulkner plus Leeds starlet Georgia Coates and Middlesbrough’s Aimee Willmott. Two of the quartet are heading for their Games debuts and Litchfield is determined to make an immediate impression and take inspiration from GB’s new star.
Peaty announced himself as a new sensation by winning two golds and a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – where Litchfield also featured, two years shy of becoming national champion in the men’s 400m individual medley final, also in Glasgow, back in April.
“I have been swimming with Adam for years now because I used to swim with him on my junior teams and then back at the Commies he broke out there,” said Litchfield.
“It was amazing to watch him and to see him swim because he trains so hard in the pool. It’s so good to see his work pay off for him and I don’t see why that can’t be an example to me.
“I’ve just got to get in the pool and do what I do as I have done over the last few years and the benefits will pay off eventually. It’s just a matter of time.
“I don’t know if me winning at the nationals was a burst-on-the-scene moment as such – or for me personally anyway. I felt I had been around – I was obviously at the Commonwealths and that was probably my biggest yet, it was my first senior year.
“I had always been there or thereabouts in the junior teams. I was lucky enough to medal at European Juniors and World Juniors but it was just about putting a good swim together. In the last few years I had put some decent swims together – I had a bit of bad luck along the way but it was just about getting in on that day and putting together what I knew I could do and for me it came together in Glasgow.”
“I’ve just got to get in the pool and do what I do as I have done over the last few yearsMax Litchfield
Litchfield will now look to put it all together in Rio, and despite the Games representing his first Olympics, the 21-year-old is setting his sights high.
He explained: “I have swum four minutes 12 seconds which I think currently ranks me seventh in the world and the Americans have just had their trials so that’s everyone that has swam so far this year. Obviously that is top eight so far and you wouldn’t just go off that as it’s about swimming fast in the heats on that first day in Rio but there’s definitely a good chance of making that final.”
Litchfield is also proud to form part of the quartet representing Yorkshire – but will not settle for merely ‘featuring’ at an Olympics. “No-one is on the team to just be extra baggage or whatever,” he said. “You are there to do a job and you are there to get stuck in. It’s about swimming as fast as I have ever done, getting a PB and hopefully making a final and pushing for those medals.”