|Venue: Budapest Dates: Friday, 16 October to Sunday, 22 November|
|Coverage: All matches featuring London Roar, the semi-finals and finals will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website, app and via the BBC iPlayer.|
Adam Peaty knows his partner won’t be happy with him for saying it, but says it all the same: seeing his son born gave him the same feeling as winning an Olympic medal.
The 25-year-old admits he was reduced to tears after the birth of his son, George-Anderson Adetola Peaty, to partner Eiri Munro on 11 September and describes it as a “really emotional time” for the pair as their lives “changed forever”.
“It was such a ‘wow’ moment when he arrived and as soon as he came out, I cried,” the British swimmer tells BBC Sport.
“She [Eiri] will hate me saying this, but when he came out, it really was like when you win the Olympics.”
In the pool, the world record-breaking Olympic breaststroke champion is a battle-hardened winner, but George’s arrival has shown he has a softer - much more human - side as well.
Now in Budapest to lead his team, London Roar, into the second season of the International Swimming League (ISL), Peaty faces a “difficult” six weeks away from his new family.
He says: “Being apart is a hard pill to swallow, as these are times you’ll never get back and I feel so connected to him, but we have great support at home and I have a job to do, which Eiri understands.”
Peaty ‘ready’ to race again
The inaugural ISL season in 2019 took in six venues across Europe and North America before the spectacular Grand Final - won by Energy Standard - in Las Vegas last December.
Organisers hoped for more locations in 2020, but plans were revised after the global coronavirus outbreak and were it not for the investment of billionaire owner Konstantin Grigorishin, it would not be happening at all.
Two new teams - Tokyo Frog Kings and Toronto Titans - have joined the existing eight for the event, which runs from 16 October to 22 November and takes place entirely in Budapest, Hungary.
“The whole world has been through so much since we last raced, which is why I’m so grateful to be in this position right now,” says Peaty. “After the Olympics were postponed it’s been great to have something else to focus on.”
Bringing more than 300 of the world’s top swimmers together when many countries have travel restrictions in place has presented significant challenges, but ISL organisers have analysed moves by other sports - namely basketball and cricket - to try to minimise risk.
“We had Covid tests before we left the UK and several here in Budapest,” says Peaty.
“We’re in team bubbles to reduce mixing, but we’re also based on Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube river running through Budapest, so we’re isolated, which helps us and the public to stay safe in case there were any positive cases.”
In addition to the strong British presence, the London Roar franchise were set to boast Australian Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers, Cate and Bronte Campbell, as well as Emma McKeon, in their line-up.
However, they withdrew after Swimming Australia warned them about the potential risks of travelling to Europe, including the possible impact to their long-term health.
Peaty says it is a “blow” that leaves the 2019 runners-up somewhat “exposed”, but he is confident they can still be contenders and take advantage of ISL new rules.
“If you win the medley relay, you get to choose the stroke in skins, which is a knockout event worth loads of points,” says Peaty, who won world gold in the event alongside fellow London Roar GB team-mates Luke Greenbank, James Guy and Duncan Scott in 2019.
“Last season it was always freestyle, but now if we win the medley, we could choose breaststroke and that makes things more of a level playing field.”
Also new for 2020 is the team kit.
After athletes donned what were described as pre-race ‘space suits’ for season one, many expressed their ‘shock’ on social media this week about the more vibrant colour choices for season two.
London Roar - who wear green and gold - have been told theirs would be suitable for Kermit the frog, Green Lantern or even a member of Slytherin House, but Peaty has a different take.
“It’s like I’m an Avenger with a cape or something,” he says while laughing. “I might as well be on a runway.
“It might not be quite my style, but it’s a bit of fun which hopefully kids watching will like.”