Adam Peaty coasted into the final of the 100metre breaststroke, the only question mark now remains whether he can break his own record.
Briefly during the opening length of his semi-final, he threatened to go under that time but instead he touched some way off, still quick enough for one of the 20 fastest performances of all time and a full body’s length clear of the field.
The defending Olympic champion had the quickest reaction time of the field – a contrast to the one possible weakness in his armoury – and although he rose out of the water behind the leaders, three strokes later he was clear.
From there, it was merely a race against the clock should he entertain it.
Whether that world record follows in the final remains to be seen. He has complained about the aquatics centre not feeling like an Olympic Games so quiet is the atmosphere.
The noise inside is better than at most events so far, a strong team contingent in the stands to cheer on the swimmers, the Americans and Germans once more particularly vocal.
“I wanted to be a little bit quicker but it was a morning swim,” he said. “You never know what is going to happen. But Olympic finals are always about racing never about the time. But I’m the best racer in the world and I’m looking forward to it. Medals aren’t won in heats so there’s still a bit in reserve for tomorrow.”
From a British perspective, there were no medals to cheer. Peaty will be joined in the final by James Wilby, who trains a few lanes away from him at Loughborough University. A medal looks to be a stretch for a swimmer who was once perhaps Peaty’s closest challenger but could only qualify sixth fastest.
There was agony for Max Litchfield as he finished fourth for a second successive Olympics in the men’s 400m individual medley.
In Rio de Janeiro, he was some two seconds off a medal, in Tokyo it was just 0.21seconds that separated him from becoming Britain’s first medallist of these Games.
“So close but so far,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can these last five years but just not enough.”
There were other British finalists. Aimee Willmott was seventh in her 400m IM as Japan celebrated a gold for a tearful Yui Ohashi, the only shame being.
And in the final event of the session, a young British quartet were an admirable fifth, led home by Freya Anderson, who has some potential medal chances next week.