When Adam Peaty touched home to win gold in the 100m breaststroke, it wasn’t just a momentous occasion for him, it was also a landmark for his coach of six years, Mel Marshall.
Peaty has been coached by Marshall since 2009 when he walked through the doors of the City of Derby club and the pair have never looked back. With less than one year until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Peaty now holds the world, European and Commonwealth titles – as well as the world record in the 100m breaststroke.
“I’m incredibly proud of him,” admits the two-time Olympian. “I’ll never get this feeling again. I’ve coached him from the age of 14, so as much as I’m keeping a calm head on everything, I’m really enjoying this process.”
Marshall retired from swimming after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and embarked upon a career as a coach. A graduate of UK Sport’s Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Programme (ECAP), Marshall says she is enjoying the journey with Peaty.
“I left elite sport seven years ago, I’ve been desperate to be back and he allows me to do that. He’s amazing, it’s not very often that you have your standards matched, and we are completely matched on our work ethics, our morals, fair play, everything, and that’s rare to find.”
Despite the unprecedented success achieved by British Swimming at the World Championships, Marshall says she wasn’t surprised to see the team do so well.
“There’s a lot of good things going on in swimming at the moment, I’ve been involved with international swimming for a long time but it just feels right, in terms of the leadership, the communication, the coaching, the atmosphere just feels cool, calm and collected and together it feels like we’re able to deliver.”
Marshall was in Kazan at the World Championships as a team coach, rather than Peaty’s personal coach and confessed that watching her athletes race is “agony”.
“You want it to be over,” she said. “You just want them to do what you know they’re capable of doing. It’s an internal agony and an external display of calm, hopefully!”
Kazan was the next step in Marshall’s development as a coach as she looks to keep improving and learning after graduating from ECAP.
“I’ll come away from this knowing that Adam got a good result, but I’ve got to reflect on my performance so I’ll ask Adam and others for feedback. You’ve got to make sure you’re still improving.
“ECAP really helped me with that, so I go away from every meet and every session even, reflecting on what went well, and what didn’t go so well, and how I can make it better.”
Following a tough season Marshall and Peaty are now both taking a well-earned rest before getting back in the pool.
“It’s been a really long season, following on from the Europeans and Commonwealths last year, so it’s really important for both of us to take a few weeks to refresh, so that when we go into that Rio cycle, we’re ready.”
With Rio 2016 on the horizon, Marshall is ensuring both Peaty and herself keep their feet on the ground as they look to add to their success.
“It’s about making sure we realise that we have to train hard and there’s a meet at the end of the year, and that’s our process, it doesn’t change because it’s an Olympic Games. We’ve just got to train as hard as we can and as smart as we can, and then make sure we’re in the right shape physically and mentally to go out there and do what we know we can do.”
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