Analysis if Adam Peaty will Break 57 Seconds in the 100 Breaststroke

Analysis if Adam Peaty will Break 57 Seconds in the 100 Breaststroke

Dr. GJohn Mullen Blog, Competition, Latest&Greatest, Training Leave a Comment

Take Home Message on the Analysis if Adam Peaty will Break 57 Seconds in the 100 Breaststroke:

  • Considering the trajectory of Adam Peaty’s performances and a forecast that we run, a time under-
    57s is doable.
  • Changes in Peaty’s performance are strongly dependent on the first split. He should consider racing
    in 26.4(30.5)s or 26.5(30.4)s.
  • An improvement of about 0.1-0.2s in the first 15m of the race and/or at least 0.05-0.1s out of the
    wall in the turn can be suitable solutions.
  • Major improvements are advised in the pull-out, timing and coordination of the break after his start
    and turn.

One of the greatest achievements expected by the swimming fraternity worldwide is the possibility of a time lower than 57s in the men’s 100m breaststroke event. Adam Peaty has set eyes on this remarkable achievement and coined it as “Project-56”.

Nevertheless, there are a few questions hanging: is an under-57 seconds time doable? If so, what should be the race strategy and where are the margins of improvement.

1. Is an under-57s race doable?

To answer this question we have tracked down Adam Peaty’s performances over his career and run a forecast of hypothetical race times in the near future.

1.1. Tracking the performance

  • Compared to other main contenders, at the same chronological age, Adam Peaty shows always faster times
  • Between 14 and 21 years-old, there was a steady improvement in the performance (from 1:01.47 to 57.13; latter one is the current world-record)
  • From 14 to 18 years-old, the year-on-year improvement ranged between 8.20% and 1.47%
  • From 18 to 21 years-old, these improvements ranged from 1.30% to 2.07%
  • The only year-on-year impairment was between 21 and 22 years-old
  • To set a time of 56.99s, he must improve the world record by 0.25%
  • Summary: there was an improvement in the race time, being the year-on-year changes smaller reaching adulthood and starting to deliver world-class performances

1.2. Forecasting short-term performances

  • The forecast was run having as input the best year-on-year performances under-59s (i.e. between 19 and 22 years-old) and predicting the race time at the age of 23
  • The race time predicted was 56.83s (80% of confidence interval: 56.34-57.33s)
  • The error of the estimation was 0.31s
  • Summary: we have about 40% chances that at the age of 23, he is going to deliver a time between 56.83s and 57.33s. Accounting for the error of the estimation, it is expected that at the age of 23 he might deliver another 57s low, but yet unsure if breaks the 56s. The under-57s race might happen from the age of 24 onwards

Conclusion

Is an under-57s race doable? Considering the trajectory of his performance and the forecast, a time under-57s is indeed doable.

2. How to race under-57s?

To address this question we assessed Adam’s race strategy and set tentative target-times.

2.1. Race strategy

  • Simple regression models of all under-58s races and respective split times were computed
  • About 47% of the final race time was dependent on the performance in the first split
  • Roughly 37% of the race time was related to the second split. Remaining percentage (about 16%) is not accounted by the models
  • The dataset is not big enough to run multiple regression models with high accuracy (N=7). However, it can be done to make sure it matches the outputs by simple regression models
  • A standardized beta for first and second splits were 0.805 and 0.741, respectively (R2=1.0). This confirms that the first 50m is the most important split for the final race time
  • Summary: fast races are mostly encompassed by the performance delivered going out

2.2. Target-times

  • We have ranked all under-58s races and respective split times
  • A combination of the 1st split at Budapest 2017 (26.50s) and 2nd split at Rio 2016 (30.52s) yields a time of 57.02s
  • However, he delivered only once a 30.5s in the 50-100m stretch. In most races, the second split was done in 30.8-30.9s
  • Summary: Adam Peaty can consider splitting in 26.4-26.5 and come back in 30.5-30.4  

Conclusion:

How to race under-57s? Changes in Peaty’s performance are strongly dependent on the first split. Only once he delivered a 30.5s in the second split. That said, he should consider racing in 26.4(30.5s) or 26.5(30.4).

3. Where do we find margin for improvements?

To learn where he can shave some tenths of a second in the race and achieve the tentative target times noted early on, we did the analysis of selected races.

3.1. Race analysis

3.1.1. First Split

  • The first split is advised to be done in 26.4s. This is almost the same time delivered at Budapest 2017 (26.50s).
  • We have analyzed several races where he splits in 26.50-27.04.
  • The reaction time is about 0.57-0.59s. But in Budapest was slightly off (0.65s)
  • At Budapest 2017 the time at the 15m mark was 6.50s. Times at 25m, 35m, and 45m marks were 12.16, 17.80 and 23.86s, respectively.
  • He did 21 stroke cycles at 60 cycles/min with a stroke length of 1.76m
  • In his latest race, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the start (15m mark) took 6.56s. As a comparison, Cameron van der Burgh spent 6.08s at Kazan 2015 and 6.32 at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Kevin Cordes reaches the 15m mark in 6.28s at Budapest 2017.
  • Therefore, he can consider doing a 6s low in the first 15m
  • Summary: the 0.1s that Adam Peaty must improve going out, can be achieved enhancing the time at the 15m mark

3.1.2. Second split

  • The second split is advised to be done in 30.5s. This is almost the same time delivered at Rio 2016 (30.52s) when he broke the world record
  • The stretches 50-65m, 65-85m, 85-95m took 8.79s, 12.32s, and 6.46s, respectively
  • He did 25 stroke cycles at 60 cycles/min with a stroke length of 1.61m
  • The finish (95-100m) was covered in 2.95s. In the past, he showed some inconsistency in the finish, which can be a point to take extra care
  • He can try to shave at least 0.05s in the 50-65m stretch
  • Summary: the push-off on the wall, gliding, and underwater stroke have room for some improvement

Conclusion:

Where do we find margin for improvements? An improvement of about 0.1-0.2s in the first 15m of the race and/or at least 0.05-0.1s out of the wall in the turn can be suitable solutions.

3.2. Qualitative analysis of the start

We have learned that one strategy to improve the time going out is to enhance the start. What to improve in the start? We have provided our qualitative analysis below.

  • Target time at 15m: at least 6.4s (i.e. 6s low)
  • Taken from Peaty’s breaststroke leg, in the 4x100m Medley relay at Rio 2016, the 15m, 25m, and 50m splits were 6.34s, 11.94s, and 26.09s.
  • Reaction time 0.24s (relay changeover of 0.40s; there is evidence that the difference in reaction time between a relay and individual events is about 0.3s): good
  • The angle of entry: minor improvement is advised
  • The line carried to pull-out: minor improvement is advised
  • Pull-out, timing and coordination of break: major improvement is advised (for instance, spend less time in the arms next to sides phase of a pullout, to rather progress straight into the recovery phase. James Wilby is rather unique in the phase)
  • Break to the first stroke: good
  • Rating up from breakout through 25m: good (target: 60c/min and stroke length of 1.70-1.75m)

3.3. Qualitative analysis of the out of the wall in the turn

What to do to improve the turn?

  • Target duration of the 50-65m stretch: 8.5-8.6s
  • Again, based on the qualitative analysis of his turn in the 4x100m Medley relay in Rio
  • Push-off the wall: minor improvement is advised
  • The line carried to pull-out: minor improvement is advised
  • Pull-out, timing and coordination of break: major improvement is advised (again, spending less time in the arms next to sides phase of a pullout, to rather progress straight into the recovery phase)
  • Break to the first stroke: good
  • Rating up from breakout through 75m: good (target: 59-60c/min and stroke length of 1.65-1.70m)

Conclusion:

Major improvements are advised in the pull-out, timing and coordination of break after start and turn.

Final note:

This is a customized analysis of Adam Peaty’s performances. The key points given may be quite different for other swimmers aiming to break the 57s mark.

Written By: Tiago M. Barbosa PhD degree recipient in Sport Sciences and faculty at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Ryan Hodierne Swimming Biomechanics, Race Performance Analyst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.