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Adrian trying to duplicate feat last accomplished by ‘Tarzan’ actor

June 25, 2013
US Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian of the California Aquatics won the men's 100M Freestyle in meet record of 48.08 during the friday championship finals of the 2013 Arena Interational Santa Clara Grand Prix at the George F. Haines International Swim Center. / Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

US Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian of the California Aquatics won the men’s 100M Freestyle in meet record of 48.08 during the friday championship finals of the 2013 Arena Interational Santa Clara Grand Prix at the George F. Haines International Swim Center. / Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Adrian has the physique of a model and resume of a superstar. He acquired new fans when he unexpectedly won the 100-meter freestyle at last year’s London Olympics.

But he knows that when he competes in Indianapolis, hometown of his father, that relatives who have cheered him for years will support him as they did when he was an anonymous age-group swimmer.

Adrian said “a whole slew of cousins” will be in the stands for the Phillips 66 National Championships at the Natatorium at IUPUI. His father, Jim, was a swimmer for Warren Central High School.

“It’s great to come out here,” Adrian said. “It’s fun, actually. The first day we got here, we went and swam out at Warren Central.”

Adrian posted the fastest time of 48.54 seconds in preliminaries of the 100 freestyle Tuesday morning. The final is Tuesday night.

Last year he became the first American to win the 100 freestyle at the Olympic Games since Matt Biondi in 1988. Adrian clocked 47.52 in London, winning by .01 over Australian favorite James Magnussen.

The 6-7 Adrian, 24, also won a gold medal in the 400 medley relay and a silver in the 400 freestyle relay. He reveled in the post-Olympics glow.

Adrian, whose mother Cecilia was born in Hong Kong, posed in a photo shoot for a Malaysian magazine. He traveled from coast to coast, appearing on the “Today” and “Tonight” shows. A street was named in his honor in his hometown of Bremerton, Wash.

He asked 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin to help him select an agent and had 18-time gold medalist Michael Phelps offer tips on living as a celebrity. He wore bright pink Speedos in his prelim, explaining that it’s a good way to get attention in a non-Olympic year.

In other countries, he said, an Olympic medal in any sport would be worth a stipend for life. In America, he said, there’s “a little bit of a higher standard.” A gold standard, in other words.

“I just feel fortunate that I get to make a living off of doing this,” said Adrian, a University of California graduate who continues to live in Berkeley. “And now I get to focus on training. It’s an opportunity that I didn’t really know existed until four or five years ago, and now I’m getting to do it.

“What kind of better job than training, taking care of your body, eating right, just improving yourself? A lot of my friends are crunching numbers across the bay in San Francisco. I feel like my job might be a little more fulfilling than that.”

Adrian’s Twitter profile is revealing. On it, he said he has never taken himself seriously and never will.

“I also went to the Olympics,” the profile reads.

Although his gold medals have brought financial rewards, Adrian said he was excited before his Olympic final because he felt he could swim a personal best. To train all year and produce such a result, he said, was all the reward he required.

“Every time you look up at the clock and see a time you’ve never seen before,” he said, “I think it’s exciting.”

Frank Busch, national team director for USA Swimming, said there is less money in swimming than in other sports and consequently less pressure.

“They decide whether it’s something they want to continue to do,” he said. “They don’t chase a paycheck.”

Adrian continues to chase the clock and history.

He is aiming to become the first American to win back-to-back golds in the 100 free since “Tarzan” actor Johnny Weissmuller in 1924 and 1928. He is planning the remainder of a quadrennium that would take him to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He said the past year has passed so quickly that it seems like yesterday that he was in the 2012 Olympic Trials.

“I’m not what you would traditionally consider a grinder,” he said. “I treat every day like it’s a day to do something special.”

indystar

 

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