nathan adrian

Nathan Adrian races for first time since cancer treatment

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Nathan Adrian finished fourth in his first event since being diagnosed with testicular cancer and undergoing two surgeries, swimming the 100m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Series in Bloomington, Ind., on Friday.

Adrian, who captured the 2012 Olympic 100m free among five career golds, clocked 49.31 seconds to finish .55 behind winner Zach Apple. Adrian, 30, announced Jan. 24 that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was caught early, and the prognosis was good.

“It’s a good feeling,” Adrian said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “It’s tough to describe, right? This is home for me. Honestly, I’ve never been to Bloomington, but this environment. … That’s what feels right.”

It’s just the beginning of what should be a busy season. Adrian plans to swim the 4x100m free at the world championships in July and race individually at the Pan American Games the following week.

Come next summer, Adrian will likely need to break 49 seconds to make a fourth straight Olympic team and get under 48 to swim the individual 100m free in Tokyo.

“You get something like an adverse health diagnosis, everything kind of stops,” Adrian said. “You realize health is No. 1, and everything had to be pushed to the side. Fortunately, we’re through that for now, and I get to do what I can to get back on track.”

TYR BLOOMINGTON: Full Results | TV/Stream Schedule

In other events Friday, Katie Ledecky won the 400m freestyle in 3:59.95, the second-fastest time in the world this year. Australian 18-year-old Ariarne Titmus swam 3:59.66 at her national championships last month. Ledecky owns the 12 fastest times in history, including the world record of 3:56.46 from Rio.

Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel took the women’s 100m free in 53.65, topping Mallory Comerford by .46. Ledecky, who doesn’t swim the 100m free internationally, was fourth.

Manuel remains ranked 10th in the world this year, while Australian Cate Campbell has been a half-second faster than anyone else.

Olympic and world champion Lilly King clocked the world’s fastest 100m breaststroke of 2019, a 1:05.68 to knock Russian rival Yulia Efimova off the top of the world rankings. King swam for the first time as a pro following a decorated career in Bloomington at the University of Indiana.

Fellow former Hoosier Cody Miller won the men’s 100m breast in 59.24, his fastest time since the 2017 World Championships. Miller, the Olympic bronze medalist, was slowed by a knee injury last year, when he failed to qualify for this year’s world championships. His time on Friday, which beat national champion Michael Andrew, would have won the 2018 U.S. title.

MORE: Olympic breaststroke champion faces ban for missed drug tests

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Nathan Adrian, with cancer diagnosis, surgeries behind him, has simple ask for return meet

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Nathan Adrian would like to reveal special plans for his first meet since his testicular cancer diagnosis and two surgeries, but that is not his style.

“As I was preparing for this interview, I was thinking,” Adrian said Tuesday night, “I don’t even have something cool, like Damian Lillard wearing an Oakland A’s jersey to the arena.”

No, Adrian would be fine without extra fanfare at this weekend’s Tyr Pro Swim Series in Bloomington, Ind., where he will race the 100m freestyle on Friday and the 50m freestyle on Sunday.

“My hope is that you see the same Nathan Adrian at this meet that you’re used to,” the eight-time Olympic medalist said. “I just don’t know, because I am different, whether it be from a physical perspective — I’m missing an entire organ and lymph nodes and have pretty nasty scars. … And from an emotional perspective … I was moved to tears throughout that process.”

Adrian, now 30 years old, received his first Olympic gold medal in a vacuum-sealed packet at a team meeting a decade ago (as a preliminary heat swimmer before the famous Beijing 4x100m freestyle final). His second gold came by .01 of a second in the London 2012 100m free, after which he said he almost cried in the water (but appeared to stay composed in a TV interview and on the medal stand).

His last two golds in Rio relays brought teammates to tears — Ryan Held‘s sobbing in the 4x100m free and Michael Phelps welling up after his last career race in the medley. But Adrian stayed composed on the outside, per usual, casually opening that megawatt smile throughout the pool deck. His Twitter bio reads, “I have never taken myself too seriously and never intend to. I also went to the Olympics.”

“There are a lot of people that are really nice in this sport, but I can count on one hand the people that nobody dislikes,” said NBC Sports analyst Rowdy Gaines, who is on this week’s Olympic Channel call. “Nathan is that one guy that everybody loves.

“He walks into a room, and everybody’s instantly attracted to that, that humility and that grace and that magnetism. … He has time for the 90-year-olds and the 9-year-olds, and everyone in between.”

Tyr Pro Series — Bloomington TV/Stream Schedule

Day TV Stream Time (ET)
Thursday USASwimming.org 4 p.m.
Friday Olympic Channel NBCSports.com, OlympicChannel.com 6 p.m.
NBCSN NBCSports.com 12:30 a.m.
Saturday Olympic Channel NBCSports.com, OlympicChannel.com 6 p.m.
NBCSN NBCSports.com 1 a.m.
Sunday NBCSports.com 6 p.m.

*All streams on NBCSports.com and OlympicChannel.com also available on the NBC Sports app and Olympic Channel app, respectively.

Adrian, at 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds (pre-cancer), is a giant in the sport, perhaps the greatest American sprinter in history. The last year knocked him over like a tidal wave that accompanies him off the turn of a 100m free.

“I would wake up from being asleep and just be in tears, sobbing. I didn’t know why,” he said of life post-cancer diagnosis. “Those were more powerful emotions than I think I’ve ever felt.”

Before catching it early, and undergoing two surgeries, Adrian would have considered summer 2018 his greatest adversity as a swimmer. He failed to qualify for this summer’s world championships in an individual event. He is part of the 4x100m free relay at July’s worlds in South Korea, but it’s his first major international meet without an individual swim since Beijing 2008.

“I just chalk it up to a freak accident of a year,” Adrian said, echoing teammates like Katie Ledecky, who noted nationals and the Pan Pacific Championships being two weeks apart and having a few days to acclimate to the 16-hour difference after arriving in Tokyo for Pan Pacs. Usually, nationals/trials are about a month before Olympics or worlds, and the team has a training camp near the site of international meets.

“It was super weird to see the Americans struggling at night [in finals at Pan Pacs],” said Adrian, who was slower at Pan Pacs than at nationals. “We don’t normally have those issues. It was super weird with, honestly, how slow we were.”

Adrian is adamant that this is the beginning of a full-fledged return that will not end next summer. He is amped to not only race at Indiana University this weekend, not only in Gwangju, not only at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, but also, if maybe not this summer, the new FINA Champions Series and International Swimming League in the years ahead.

What he can’t predict is what it will feel like in Bloomington on Friday, when he mounts an official race starting block for the first time since Dec. 1. He’s lost a couple of inches of vertical leap, which affects his explosiveness off starts and turns.

“It’s one thing to be in good shape. It’s a different thing to be in racing shape,” Adrian said. “Even, like, from an emotional or mental perspective, I’m not in racing shape.

“I still love swimming, but at the same time there was this threat of maybe not being able to compete for a really long time. That certainly made me think, makes me appreciate every day that I get to be in the pool.”

As for tears? “I’m not an extremely emotional guy,” he said, “but you certainly can’t rule it out.”

MORE: U.S. swimmers qualified for world championships

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Nathan Adrian sets swim meet return from testicular cancer

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Five-time Olympic champion Nathan Adrian headlines next week’s Tyr Pro Swim Series meet in Bloomington, Ind., his first competition since his testicular cancer diagnosis and a pair of surgeries.

Adrian, a 30-year-old, three-time U.S. Olympian, is entered in his primary events — the 50m and 100m freestyles. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA airs live coverage of finals next week on Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app, OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app for subscribers.

Katie LedeckySimone Manuel, Lilly King and Michael Andrew are the other marquee names entered. Ledecky is set to race new Canadian rival Taylor Ruck in the 200m free. Ruck, an 18-year-old who trains in the same Stanford pool as Ledecky, beat Ledecky in the 200m free at last August’s Pan Pacific Championships.

But let’s focus on Adrian here.

The gentle giant announced Jan. 24 that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and that the prognosis was good.

Lance Armstrong and fellow swimmer Eric Shanteau, fellow Olympians who overcame testicular cancer, were among those who reached out. Adrian and Shanteau, both Olympic rookies in 2008, spoke at length, according to FINA World Aquatics Magazine.

“Hearing his experience – especially from someone who was the same level as me [athletically] was really important because there is not a whole lot you can find online about that,” Adrian said, according to the magazine.

Adrian and others are gearing up for the world championships in July in Gwangju, South Korea. Though Adrian last summer failed to qualify for an individual event at worlds, ending a 10-year streak of racing individually at major international meets, he is part of the 4x100m freestyle relay pool.

Of course the road back will be difficult. 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.

Adrian lost 10 to 15 pounds and, though he was back to full training in early March, said he could feel the loss of explosiveness, especially on turns, according to FINA.

“I have to be much more cognizant about each and every movement to relearn it,” he said, according to the magazine.

MORE: U.S. swimmers qualified for world championships

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