April 6, 2020

He came back after fighting cancer, now Cal Olympic swimmer adjusting to coronavirus pandemic

OAKLAND — Olympic swim star Nathan Adrian already knew what hell looked like before the novel coronavirus pandemic spread anxiety and uncertainty around the world.

In the past year, Adrian, 31, has undergone two surgeries to treat testicular cancer. But he was determined to make his fourth Olympic team at the Tokyo Games where he hoped to compete in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle sprints as well as the 400-meter relays.

“I was just getting to a place where my times in practice were pretty good,” Adrian said a day before officials postponed the Summer Olympics until next year.

Even before the announcement, the 6-foot-6 Adrian was resigned to the fact that the Games would be delayed. A Cal graduate with a degree in public health, Adrian was one of the many athletes who expressed concerns about going to Tokyo this summer.

Now another year will give Adrian, who won medals in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, more time to modify his training in the aftermath of the surgeries.

“We’re back on the horse and whether the horse lands me in Tokyo 2021 my journey is not done yet,” said Adrian, a five-time Olympic champion and eight-time medalist. “Just like cancer wasn’t going to be the end of my swimming career, this isn’t the end.”

Adrian personifies the thousands of athletes who had been preparing to compete in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in July and August. Each one of them has had to readjust schedules with the postponement of competitions, the closure of training facilities and in some places such as the Bay Area, Italy and France, obey government-issued shelter-in-place orders.

The latest development has been another speed bump in Adrian’s pursuit of continuing his Olympic career as one of the world’s best sprinters. He faced a serious obstacle before the word COVID-19, or coronavirus, became part of the global vocabulary.

It began in December 2018 with surgery to remove a tumor. Adrian, from Bremerton, Washington, had a second surgery a month later to remove some lymph nodes. Unlike other forms of the disease, testicular cancer can be successfully treated with a low risk of death — about 1 in 5,000 dies from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

The surgeries forced Adrian out of the pool for the longest time since taking to the water at age 4. He has recounted how surgeons cut through his abdominal wall five times. The incisions on the left side of his body have led to readjusting training techniques this past year so as not to favor his right-sided muscles.

At first, Adrian had to patiently regain strength before barreling into training to prepare for last year’s big international meets. He was not permitted to lift more than 15 pounds after the second surgery. Adrian has described holding a can of soup over his head as a form of “weight lifting.”

But seven months after the surgeries, Adrian anchored the U.S. 4×100 freestyle relay team to a world record and victory at the 2019 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health


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