Adam Peaty took a sledgehammer to his own world record as ‘Project 56’ came to fruition as the Briton hit the wall in the 100m breaststroke semi-final in 56.88 seconds at the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
While Peaty was setting about taking his event even further through a timewarp, Gabriele Detti won bronze in the 400m freestyle.
Peaty had long talked about his ambition to be the first swimmer under 57 seconds in the 100m breaststroke and his heat swim of 57.59 was the fifth-fastest in history.
The 24-year-old returned to the Nambu International Aquatics Center in the evening and turned at halfway under world-record pace on 26.63.
He pulled away from the field, his stroke long and smooth, for a second 50 of 30.25 as he took 0.22secs off the world record he set at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow.
Peaty said: “There’s no other word except for incredible. Obviously I’ve been chasing that for three years now. Ever since I touched the wall in Rio I was like I could go faster. It always comes down to where and when you do it and what kind of run-up in the season you had.”
Peaty, who is coached by Mel Marshall at Loughborough, will now return for the final on Monday night where he hopes to go quicker again.
He joked: “It would be a bit embarrassing to get the world record and not come away with the world title!”
Detti took bronze in the opening race of the evening session as he broke his own Italian record in 3:43.23.
The 24-year-old was fourth after 350m but battled his way into the medals as he matched the bronze medals he won at the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro as well as the World Championships in Budapest in 2017.
The race was won by Sun Yang of China whom Detti congratulated, saying: “He’s the best and he won. That’s all. I’m happy and I’ll try to beat him next year.”
The Italian also dismissed concerns about the injury that had ruled him out of last year’s European Championships.
“I don’t want to think about last year. My shoulder is good.”
Elsewhere, Katinka Hosszu was fastest through to the final of the 200m individual medley in 2:07.17.