(ATR) Nathan Adrian was diagnosed with testicular cancer in December 2018 and his reality changed completely.
Nathan Adrian says the pool "is home, this is where I'm happy". (Lima 2019)
His life made a 180º turn and his priorities suffered modifications. The five-time Olympic gold medalist had to put aside his passion and focus on overcoming his illness. Many things appeared in his head, but one thing was clear: he was going to beat the illness.
Adrian, 30, made his debut at Lima 2019 on Tuesday with the silver medal for the 4x100m relay, and Wednesday he nailed it again in the 4x100m mixed medley relay, winning the gold medal. On Thursday, he took home another silver in the men's 100m freestyle.
“I'm not feeling the pressure. I came here for the experience and try to win some medals. I'm not where I would like to be. Last year when I classified for this tournament, I wanted to win a bunch of medals and go 47 low but you know...things have changed, so I’m really happy to be here, to be competing. This is home, this is where I'm happy. We had a good start for Team USA, and that’s really important,” Adrian told Around the Rings
after Wednesday's medal race.
Adrian has never competed at a Pan Am Games before Lima. He will also swim in the 50m men's freestyle on Friday and the 4x100m men's medley relay on Saturday. His main goal is to book his place to Tokyo 2020. He knows how hard it is getting to an Olympic Games. He's been to three (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016). But now he’s a new man, he knows what really matters and how hard the battles can be.
“Fortunately I've been doing this for a long time, this is my third Olympic cycle and been on World champions, and this is my first Pan Am, but it doesn’t matter we are all going up and down. You can have years where you rock it and others when you don’t. This is the best practice for an Olympic Game you can have. You live at the village, you have a dining hall, all the different sports," Adrian says, looking happy to be back.
Adrian celebrates gold medal in mixed 4x100m freestyle relay on Wednesday. (Lima 2019)
He’s an Olympic champion. He won a gold medal at Beijing 2008 4x100m free relay, at London 2012 there was gold in the 100m free and 4x100m medleys. At Rio 2016, he won a gold medal for the 4x100m free relay and 4x100m medley. Adrian also was a silver medalist in London 2012 at 4x100m relay and bronze 50m and 100m at Rio 2016. He also has nine World Championship titles.
“Things changed a lot. Mostly perspective, it’s huge. I think that understanding. I mean, I eat, sleep, I dream for winning medals but at the end of the day there are things more important in my life, and I think now I get more conscious about it. I'm glad it happened to me when I was 30 and could swim a pretty long time."
On his comeback, he nailed the silver medal for the 4x100-meter freestyle relay team to an event-record 3:09.06 at last month's FINA World Championships in South Korea. He has been swimming since the age of five. The decision to get back in the pool was something he needed to do, for him and also for his loved ones. Everyone is rooting for him back in Bremerton, Washington, where there is a street named after him.
“Sports have taught me how to react to adversity in my life. You have to deal with what you can when you can. When I was dealing with cancer there were all hands in for that and now we are here to succeed inside the pool. This is the best place to catch up with all of what I've missed”, he concludes.
Written and reported by Olivia Diaz Ugalde in Lima.
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