Adam Peaty, the three-time Olympic swimming champion from Britain, has acknowledged that he has been caught up in a “downward spiral of self-destruction.”
However, he remains optimistic that he is on the path to recovery. Peaty withdrew from the British Championships earlier this month due to mental health concerns, and as a result, he was not included in the Great Britain team for the World Aquatics Championships scheduled for July.
“I’ve been on a self-destructive spiral, which I don’t mind saying because I’m human,” he told the Times.
“I got to a point in my career where I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel happy swimming and I didn’t feel happy racing, my biggest love in the sport.
“I’ve had my hand hovering over a self-destruct button because if I don’t get the result that I want, I self-destruct.”
Adam Peaty, who plans to participate in the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, has discussed his prior bouts of depression and struggles with alcohol. These issues were exacerbated last year when he was contending with an injury, a loss of motivation, and the dissolution of his relationship with the mother of his child.
Peaty has also been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
He added: “It’s been an incredibly lonely journey. The devil on my shoulder [says], ‘You’re missing out on life, you’re not good enough, you need a drink, you can’t have what you want, you can’t be happy’.
“Some days you feel good and you don’t have to talk back; some days you feel horrendous, so you have to talk back and get through it.”
For almost a decade, Peaty has been dominant in his breaststroke events, defending his 100m title at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and setting a record for the fastest 20 times in history over the distance earlier that year.
Throughout his career, he has won eight gold medals at World Championships, 17 golds at European Championships, and four golds at the Commonwealth Games.
However, he suffered a broken foot prior to the Birmingham event last year, causing him to finish fourth behind James Wilby and miss out on a gold medal.
Despite his world record being almost a second faster than any other swimmer, Peaty admits that striving for perfection is taking a toll on him. He has spoken candidly about his struggles with depression, alcohol, and ADHD, which were exacerbated by a challenging year that included injury, loss of motivation, and the breakdown of his relationship with the mother of his child. Nevertheless, Peaty remains focused on competing at the Paris Olympics next year.
“Any sane person knows that 18 years doing the same thing is pretty much crazy,” he said. “Trying to find tiny margins year after year, trying to find 0.1%.
“The dedication and sacrifice – weekends and all your time are spent chasing that goal for this one opportunity of Olympic glory. Once made sense, twice was a big ask, and was bigger last time round because that extra Covid year was really hard on all of us.
“A third one? It’s very bizarre that we do it, but I’m still here. The only reason that I took a step away from it for now, competitively, is because I don’t know why I’m still doing it, to be honest.
“I don’t know why I’m still fighting. The positive thing is that I noticed a ‘why’ there. I’m looking for the answer.”