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Battle with cancer gives American swimmer Nathan Adrian new perspective

American swimmer Nathan Adrian prepares to swim in Tuesday’s 4×100 freestyle relay at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru. Adrian, who underwent two surgeries for cancer earlier this year, helped the Americans win a silver medal. (Flavio Florido / Lima 2019)

By IAN GORDON
News Service Lima 2019

LIMA, Peru, August 7 – American Nathan Adrian admits his battle with testicular cancer has given him a new perspective, not just on his swimming career but on life itself.

Seemingly the picture of health, the five-time Olympic gold medalist underwent two surgeries after the shock diagnosis in January. He was 30 years old and had been married for just four months.

“Yeah, it’s changed a lot. I mean perspective is huge,” Adrian said winning a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in the men’s 4×100 meter freestyle relay on Tuesday (August 6). He swam on the American’s winning 4×100 mixed relay on Wednesday night.

“I’ve talked about it a lot, but I think just understanding like, while I dream, I live, I eat, I sleep winning medals, but at the end of the day there are other things that are equally important or more important than that in my life.

“I think I had a very real and good realization of that and I’m happy that it happened when I’m 30 and not much further down the line.”

Adrain made his major international comeback at the world championships in July and anchored the USA to 4×100 freestyle relay gold medal. He was unable to repeat the feat as Brazil struck gold at the Centro Acuatico.

Now, he will turn his attention to the individual 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle events, but admits missing several months of training as he twice recovered from major surgery has inevitably had an impact on his times.

“We’re not where I would want to be. Last year when I qualified for this meet I wanted to come down here, I wanted to win a bunch of medals, I wanted to go 47 (seconds) low in the 100m freestyle but you know things have changed since then, of course,” Adrian said.

“But I’m happy to be here, I’m happy to be competing. This is home for me right, this is where I’m happy.

“To come away with a silver medal is pretty solid. We had a good start for Team USA which I think is really important. I think we’ll ride this momentum and just start to build on it.”

Adrain is relishing his Pan American Games debut and hopes it will be a launching pad for a successful bid to make the USA team for a fourth Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

“Fortunately I’ve been doing this a long time, this is my third cycle of the year before the Olympics. This is my first Pan Ams, but it doesn’t matter, we’re all going with a clean slate. Come this fall we’re all going to be training our butts off.

“People who are absolutely on top of their game this year are gonna be not good next year and people who are not performing this year are gonna win medals next year. That’s just how it goes.

“You do this long enough, that’s what happens. While this is really important, I think more so than times or medals, it’s kind of going through the process.

“This is the best practice for an Olympic Games that you’ll ever have, right. It’s a village experience, you’re getting the dining hall, you have all the other sports.

“I’ve never been to Pan Ams and this is the closest I’ve ever been to the Olympics (experience) without being there.”

Since 2009, the Collinsville Press has been providing award-winning coverage of sports and news in the Farmington Valley and across Connecticut.

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