Nathan Adrian Earns Huge Victory With Return to ‘Normalcy’ After Cancer Diagnosis (VIDEO)

Nathan Adrian swam in his first meet back after his cancer diagnosis in January; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Just diving back into the water for the first race was the victory Nathan Adrian needed.

Adrian, one of the most decorated U.S. sprinters in Olympic history, made his return to competition this weekend at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Bloomington after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in January 2019.

His return was marked by competing in the 100 and 50 free on night two and four of the Pro Series where he finished fifth in the 100 with a time of 49.83 and third in the 50 with a time of 22.22.

It was not his return to the pool that mattered the most, however. It was the return to “normalcy” for Adrian that mattered the most.

“The entire world stopped. And part of you has a huge desire to get back to normal. Swimming and working on getting fast in the pool and working on getting back into shape and working on all the intricacies of getting over two major surgeries that cut through my abdominal wall — those things made me feel normal and helped me relax and calm my nerves and the anxiety of cancer.” Adrian said.

“It’s a complete different thing to hop on a plane, to be eating meals you’re not used to, and to have a really strict timeline for when races are going to go off,” he said. “That’s what we came here to do.”

That is all part of the normalcy that Adrian is so used to with racing and competing. However, five months ago, he was unsure if he was even going to be able to return to the water in this capacity.

While he is the young healthy age of 30, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which caused his whole world to change.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Exercise and diet are supposed to be good for your health and here I am at 30 with cancer,” Adrian said.

Instead of focusing on training, his mind was wandering to his own mortality. While battling his cancer, swimming became a rock for him, along with his wife and family.

His desire to get back to normal — which included swimming and training — allowed him to keep calm during two major surgeries. While his experience with cancer is totally unique to anyone else’s, much like any other patient that is diagnosed with cancer, his desire to be occupied was great, so he always had a project to work on to keep his mind from wandering.

He just bought a swim school with his friend Will Copeland, which kept him busy while he was not training and in the process of waiting for test results.

He has been working on improving his strength since he could not lift more than 10 pounds for four weeks after his surgeries.

“10 or 15 pounds, that’s like Ash (his cat). I’d pick up Ash and be like ‘it’s a good thing you’re not gaining any weight right now,'” he joked.

Slowly but surely, he has found his way back to the place he has called home for so many years: competition.

While Adrian did not come out of this meet with any first-place finishes, he proved that he was still a major contender in the game.

“I don’t know what to make of the times, but in terms of my stroke it felt better than what I expected it to feel, which is always a good thing. Now we just have to work on the last 20 or 25 meters of the 100,” said.

With every race he looked more and more comfortable and more like the dominate sprinter the swimming world knows and loves. While cancer has been quite the unexpected speed bump, it has not changed his goals for 2020.

“We want to be there. We want to be in Tokyo. We want to be winning medals for Team USA. How we do it has certainly changed,” Adrian said.

For the remainder of the summer he will be focusing on racing and training and attempt to return to be among the world’s fastest, while the rest of the swimming world is behind him and cheering as loud as they can for him every step and bump along the way.

Nathan Adrian’s Timeline:

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Taylor Covington
4 years ago

Such an inspiration! Always rooting for Nathan!!!