Nathan Adrian earned his first individual win in a full swim meet since announcing his testicular cancer diagnosis in January 2019.
Adrian, a 32-year-old with 15 gold medals between the Olympics and world championships, won the men’s 100m freestyle to close out a Pro Series stop in Mission Viejo, California, on Sunday.
Adrian clocked 48.74 seconds, prevailing by .31 of a second over a field that lacked the top sprint freestylers.
“Coming in here pretty beat up [from training[, going 48, that’s much more level with our expectations and where we want to be,” than the last meet in March, Adrian said”
Full meet results are here. The Pro Series has one more stop — in Indianapolis in May — before the Olympic Trials in June in Omaha.
On Jan. 24, 2019, Adrian announced he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and that the prognosis was good. He underwent two surgeries and returned to competition that May.
Adrian spent two weeks out of the pool after his inpatient surgery and said it was probably his longest break from swimming since he was 5, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
He said he felt a loss of explosiveness, especially on turns, according to FINA World Aquatics Magazine.
“I have to be much more cognizant about each and every movement to relearn it,” he said in 2019, according to the magazine.
Later in 2019, Adrian took silver medals in the 50m and 100m freestyles at the Pan American Games. He had failed in 2018 to make the team individually for the 2019 World Championships, ending a 10-year streak of racing individually at major international meets.
Adrian’s best chance at making a fourth consecutive Olympics will be in the 100m free, given the top six at trials in June are in line to make the team for relay purposes. The top two per individual event qualify for Tokyo.
This year, Adrian ranks second and sixth among Americans in the 100m and 50m frees, respectively. Since the start of 2019, he’s eighth in the 100m free and fifth in the 50m free.
“The 100m free has always been my baby,” said Adrian, the 2012 Olympic 100m free champ who became a father in February. “The 50m free just kind of comes along with the territory. I’ll probably focus on the 50m free a little bit more in the true twilight of my career because I think you can get away with a little less man hours in the pool.”
In other events Sunday, Katie Ledecky won the women’s 1500m freestyle in 15.40.55, prevailing by 26.13 seconds over Ashley Twichell, the U.S.’ second-ranked swimmer in the event. Ledecky, who owns the 10 fastest times in history, lapped a swimmer before the 1,200-meter mark. Her time would have placed third in the men’s 1500m free that lacked most of the top distance swimmers.
An hour later, Ledecky placed second in the 100m free behind the fastest American this year, Abbey Weitzeil. Ledecky ranks outside the top 10 in the U.S. in the event since the start of 2019 and is not expected to swim it at Olympic Trials.
University of Alabama junior Rhyan White had the breakout swim of the day, taking the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:07.24. White took 3.71 seconds off her personal best in Mission Viejo, moving to third in the U.S. since the start of 2019. Only world-record holder Regan Smith and former 100m back world-record holder Kathleen Baker have been faster in that period.
Madisyn Cox won the women’s 200m individual medley in 2:10.00, the fastest by an American this year. Cox, the 2017 World bronze medalist, beat a field that included Baker and Melanie Margalis, the two fastest Americans since the start of 2019.
Michael Andrew improved on his U.S.-leading men’s 200m IM time for 2021, prevailing in 1:57.98. Ryan Lochte, bidding to become the oldest U.S. man to swim in an Olympics at age 36, was third in the preliminary heats in 2:00.90, then scratched the final. Lochte ranks fourth in the U.S. this year and fifth since the start of 2019.
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