In failing to advance past Wednesday's semifinals of the men's 100m freestyle, five-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian missed his best shot at qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Adrian finished 13th overall, less than 0.2 seconds from making the eight-man final.
Adrian said afterward that while he had a “really good” swim in the morning prelims, he could not keep the momentum for the semifinal race. He said that he “threw a little bit more emotional energy in prelims than I should have,” knowing that the preliminaries would be particularly tough this year.
Despite his disappointment, Adrian reflected positively when sharing his thoughts after the race. In discussing his view on swimming over the years, he said, “When I’ve had a bad practice before, it was a little bit of a dagger in the heart … and I would be very, very effected by that. Now, I sort of go home, and I let it go immediately and get to give my wife and my baby a big hug and a kiss.”
Adrian’s challenges have extended beyond the realm of athletics and swimming, as he battled testicular cancer in early 2019. After undergoing two surgeries and taking weeks off from training, he returned to compete in May of 2019. Adrian’s diagnosis and recovery didn’t stop him from winning silver medals in the 50m and 100m freestyles at the Pan American Games that same year.
Adrian relived his first Olympics with the media in Omaha, calling it a “dream come true to compete at the highest level.” He also marveled at the opportunity to watch American sprinting evolve over time. Regardless of this setback in his road to the Tokyo Olympics, he was filled with gratitude following the race.
Adrian still has a chance to swim in his fourth Olympics if he qualifies for the 50m freestyle, taking place between Saturday and Sunday in Omaha.