Adam Peaty won the 100 metres breaststroke at the World Championships on Monday night and returned on Tuesday morning to qualify fastest in a world record over 50m.
The 22-year-old Uttoxeter swimmer set the world record of 26.42sec en route to winning 50m breaststroke gold in Kazan, Russia two years ago.
Peaty was optimistic of going quicker in the non-Olympic event after a halfway split of 26.50sec in the 100m, which he had also won in 2015. He predicted “something special” and delivered – clocking 26.10 in the morning heats.
Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa was second quickest in 26.54sec. The 0.44 margin is huge over one length.
Peaty’s 100m title was one of two gold medals for Britain on day two, with Ben Proud winning the non-Olympic 50m butterfly.
And there was the prospect of further success on Tuesday night as Duncan Scott and defending champion James Guy qualified in first and second place, respectively, for the 200m freestyle final.
Van der Burgh was Peaty’s predecessor as Olympic champion, having won at London 2012, and set a personal best over 50m.
The South African had withdrawn from the 100m to focus on the one-length event.
Brazil’s Joao Gomes was third fastest qualifier for Tuesday night’s semi-finals in 26.67 and Kevin Cordes of the United States was third fastest in 26.83.
Peaty did not expect a world record on Tuesday morning and certainly not by going 0.32 quicker than his previous best.
Peaty said: “Coming into the heats this morning I saw Cam, saw Kevin go quite fast. I was like ‘right, I’ll put a mark down’. I was quite relaxed. I wasn’t going out there this morning for a world record. Honestly. I was going out there just to qualify for the semis.
“It’s 10am. It’s quite early for a world record. I’m very happy with that swim. That world record is two years old, so it’s due another push on. Last night gave me the confidence because I was out in 26.50. I was like ‘right, this is so, so easy – if I can turn off that I can definitely push it on for a 50’.
“That didn’t really feel like my best race, so move it on tonight we’ll be very happy.”
Asked for his reaction to Van der Burgh’s swim in the prior heat, Peaty said: “I don’t know, just I want to be faster. It’s sport. I’m very competitive and I wanted to get that best lane, best semi for the semi tonight and we’ll push it on again for the final [on Wednesday] hopefully.”