Kamminga has a plan to upset Peaty
TOKYO – It is considered the safest gold in the pool. A virtual lock.
Bookies around the world have installed Adam Peaty as the biggest favorite to win a gold medal in swimming – both men and women – at the Tokyo Olympics.
Little-known Dutch challenger Arno Kamminga, however, is set to beat the odds in the 100-meter breaststroke.
In May, Kamminga became the only man with Peaty to cross the 58-second mark with a time of 57.90 in the Dutch practice. Although still more than a second short of Peaty’s world record of 56.88, Kamminga saw reason for hope when he lost to Peaty a few weeks later at the European Championships.
“When I raced him in Budapest I saw he was a little faster in the first 50 but my turn is much better and the race really starts after the first 50 and I’m just going to work my way through on the second 50 and try to beat it, ”Kamminga told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
As the Euros played out during a period of intense training for both men, Peaty led Kamminga with a comfortable 0.37 second lead on the turn, but was only 0.07 seconds faster. than the Dutchman in the second round.
However, Peaty touched in 57.66 against 58.10 for Kamminga.
Finishing half a second behind Peaty was already an accomplishment few swimmers have achieved in recent years. But Kamminga wants more.
“I know I can swim 57 there again,” Kamminga said of the Tokyo Games. “It’s going to be incredibly difficult. (Peaty) has been the No. 1 in the world for so many years now. He’s still (far) ahead, but I’ll continue to nibble my time and then we’ll see what that means.
Peaty is ranked 1-10 favorites to defend his gold in the 100 breaststroke at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. In other words, the Briton has a 90% chance of winning.
After all, since breaking Cameron van der Burgh’s world record in 2015, Peaty has lowered his mark four times and he has the fastest 16 races in history.
“He’s really, really professional,” Kamminga said. “It doesn’t matter whether there is someone near him or not; he just trains to be faster and better and I think that’s what makes him really special.
Unlike Peaty, whose only individual event at the Olympics is the 100, Kamminga is also a contender in the 200 breaststroke, where he holds the third fastest qualifying time of 2: 06.85. Only Zac Stubblety-Cook from Australia and Shoma Sato from Japan entered with faster times.
“This race is even closer. A lot of guys are swimming 2:06 right now, ”Kamminga said. “It’s going to be very tight.”
In the 100m, other podium contenders include American Michael Andrew and Italian Nicolò Martinenghi.
The 100 breaststroke heats will take place in the opening swim session on Saturday, with the final scheduled for Monday.
“I’ll try to run with Peaty. Of course, it is still a little faster. But I’ll just try to close the gap, ”Kamminga said. “And now other guys are coming to the 58-low as well, so it’s going to be a really interesting race. A lot of pleasure.”
Dutch swimming is known for its acrobatic sprinters like Pieter van den Hoogenband, Inge de Bruijn and Ranomi Kromowidjojo. But Kamminga’s more compact body is better suited to breaststroke.
“I’m neither that long nor that tall,” he said. “But I’ve always liked breaststroke. … I’m just happy to be competing with the best in the world.
A quirk about Kamminga’s pre-race routine that separates him from other competitors: he doesn’t swim before races to warm up.
“I only do arid lands,” he said. “It’s okey for me.”
Whether this works well enough to beat Peaty remains to be seen.
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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf
Andrew Dampf, The Associated Press