The 21-year-old is an early favourite for the event, having won gold in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke at last year’s world championships. Peaty has been widely fancied to become Britain’s first male Olympic champion in swimming since Adrian Moorhouse in 1988.
Peaty lived up to that expectation with a stellar swim on the opening day of competition in Rio as he trimmed 0.37 seconds off the world record he set in London last year.
The semi-finals take place later on Saturday with the final on Sunday night.
“Hopefully tonight I’ll get a better performance, hopefully I can give the confidence to the other [British] swimmers: don’t be scared, it’s just two lengths of a pool, it’s what you’ve done all your life,” said Peaty, speaking to the BBC after setting the record.
“It’s really great to push the rest of the swimming team but the job’s not done until the medals are around the neck.”
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