Barber takes inspiration from Team GB swim star
ADAM PEATY’S freak-of-nature exploits in the pool are blazing a trail for local lad George Barber to follow. The Humberston swimming ace says brushing shoulders with the Team GB poster boy back in 2016 has inspired him to aim high himself.
Peaty’s rise has been nothing short of extraordinary. At the recent British Swimming Selection Trials in London, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist touched the wall in 57.39s in the 100m breaststroke – meaning he now holds the 20 fastest times of all-time in the event.
Barber, who specialises in the 200m butterfly and 400m freestyle, met Peaty when he was studying at Humberston Academy five years ago – the same year he scooped 100m breaststroke gold and 4x100m medley silver in Rio.
The Lincolnshire star will never forget that encounter and reckons taking inspiration from Peaty, 26, can be the perfect recipe for following in his glittering Games footsteps. With under 100 days to go until Tokyo, the 19-year-old said: “I remember meeting Adam in 2016 when I was in Year 9 or 10 at school. “The school had organised to train with Swim England, and Adam was one of the two British swimmers brought along.
“I was so lucky to meet him when I was very young. To see him break world records at that Olympics in Rio was just like: ‘wow’.
“It was just insane. Still today, to watch someone you’ve literally stood next to break a world record is incredible.
“I’ll 100 per cent be watching (Peaty compete in Tokyo) – I’ll be watching him, and my mates that go, and am really excited for them and to see what they can do.
“It would be incredible to follow in their footsteps. I’m optimistic I could reach that sort of level one day, but even just to make a team or be in the question, I’m super happy with where I’ve got.”
Barber’s career in the pool is helped by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and
Coral – and SportsAid which provides vital funding for training, travel, equipment and access to mentoring.
The investment is supported by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Barber, who studies at Sheffield Hallam University, knows it has given his journey a shot in the arm. Barber made the 200m butterfly final at Swim Cup Amsterdam in December 2019 and is now training under the auspices of elite coach Mike Taylor at Sheffield’s cuttingedge Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.
He says things in the Steel City are going perfectly to plan and he’s ready to hit the ground running as lockdown restrictions ease. Barber, who is treading the same SportsAid pathway as Sir Mo Farah and Dina Asher-Smith, added: “Training at Ponds Forge has been really good. That 50m pool makes the world of difference.
“The facility is one of the best in the world and you can really tell it makes a difference in your training. Even from a morale point of view, you can tell it makes a difference.
“400m freestyle and 200m butterfly are still the strokes I’m working towards – that focus hasn’t changed at all.
“It’s been really good with Mike. Different coaches have different styles and Mike’s suiting me really well at the minute.
“I’m swimming well, I’m getting back to where I was last year and I’m really happy with where I’m at – and what it will mean for the future.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com