Olympic swimming medalist Adam Peaty says ‘God and church help me find peace beyond the pool’

Adam Peaty has said his faith has helped him deal with his mental health struggles and handle the pressures of the upcoming Paris Olympic Games.The three-time Olympic swimming champion, who attended St Josephs Catholic Primary School in Uttoxeter and Painsley Catholic College in Cheadle, is no stranger when it comes to speaking openly about his faith and the important role it plays in both his personal life and his professional career in the spotlight.
The 29-year-old who has faced periods of depression and alcohol abuse, shared that he felt “at peace” as he arrived at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, last week.”Sport is not the real world,” he said in an interview this week with BBC East Midlands Today. “I spent most of my life kind of validating, getting my gratification or life’s fulfilment from my results and that led me to some dark moments”.He emphasised the importance of considering factors beyond athletic achievements, saying: “It’s really living your life on a quantifiable measure of results, results, results instead of how are the people around me? How am I, how is my son, how is my family?”

“All these things actually do matter, it’s not about your job, it’s not just about performance.

“And to get that, the only place I found it was at church.”

Discussing his tattoo of a cross with the words “into the light,” Peaty revealed that he didn’t have “a community outside of sport” and found solace and fulfilment in God and attending church.

He added that everyday conversations with himself and prayers keep him inspired to use his God-given gift of swimming.

Peaty, who became the first British swimmer to defend his Olympic title in 2021, emphasised the mental toll of his struggles and his return to the pool with a renewed perspective.

“Being an athlete is 365, 24/7,” he said. “You will never have that normal aspect of life where you can do what you want.”

He acknowledged the emotional challenges of his sport, saying: “It had me in tears in the pool, I was like ‘this isn’t worth it any more, I don’t want to do this’.”

Reflecting on the balance between the love and struggle he has in swimming, Peaty stated: “You do enjoy it, but you also detest and loathe it sometimes because it takes away from the life you want to live.

“To be the best, and truly the best, you have to dedicate 110 per cent of yourself every single hour of every single day.”

Peaty concluded by highlighting the necessity of self-reflection and commitment in pursuing Olympic dreams.

“If you go to the Olympics, you have to write a contract with yourself and sign that contract and know if you are going to pay the cost, is that cost going to be worth it?”

“And will I be willing to pay that? I don’t want to live with the regret that I didn’t even try.”

• Peaty won bronze in the 100m event, but suffered a poor start in the 50m breastroke, recovering to finish fourth in the Qatari capital. The three-time Olympic gold medallist was visibly disappointed with his performance afterwards.