Nathan Adrian is a 2012 Olympic champion in the 100m freestyle, who returns for his third Olympic appearance at the 2016 Rio Games.
Adrian nearly missed the 100m freestyle final– qualifying last place in the 16-man field. However, he battled back to win his semifinal heat on Tuesday night with an impressive time of 47.83 seconds.
Adrian and Caeleb Dressel will represent the United States in the men’s 100m freestyle final in Rio.
A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, the 27-year-old athlete also models for Speedo swimwear and is Tommy Hilfiger’s menswear ambassador.
Here’s what you need to know about the 6-foot-6 American swimmer:
1. He Has Won 4 Olympic Medals
Adrian earned one gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and a gold and a silver in the 2012 London Games.
His only event in Beijing was in the prelims for the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
Then in 2012, Adrian earned his first individual Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100m freestyle. He was also part of Team USA’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Adrian alongside Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones and Ryan Lochte captured silver.
Earlier this week in Rio, he won gold during the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay. It marked the Americans’ first gold medal in this event in a major international meet since 2009, according to USA Today.
He told NBC, a relaxed and calm attitude helps him perform at his highest level, rather than a “machismo attitude.”
“Being in a good, happy, and positive place without too many expectations weighing on my shoulders is where I find performance lies,” he said to the news organization.
2. He Began Swimming at Age 2
Adrian was born on December 7, 1988 in Bremerton, Washington.
His parents started taking him to swimming lessons in Bremerton when he was two years old because his two older siblings were involved in the sport, according to NBC.
Adrian made the local swim team at the age of five, according to his website. His motivation? To keep up with his older siblings, Donella and Justin.
His older sister, Donella, went on to swim at Arizona State University, and his older brother, Justin, swam at the University of Washington.
3. He Relocated to the Keys to Advance His Training
Adrian had a solid swimming career in high school, where he was the state champion in the 100m freestyle as a freshman, and broke the state record in the 200m freestyle as a senior.
He continued his training in college at University of California at Berkeley, where he competed in three individual events and three relays at the 2007 NCAA’s. It was the following year that people started to take notice of Adrian’s talent and potential, according to his website.
Adrian made a tough choice in 2008 to take time off from Cal, and to focus on the Olympic trials. With the support of his family, he relocated to the Florida Keys to advance his training to the next level.
Adrian trained at The Race Club under his former coach at Cal, Mike Bottom and an elite group of swimmers, including Gary Hall, Jr., Michael Cavic, and Duje Draganja.
Throughout his collegiate years, Adrian became a five-time individual NCAA champion and graduated from Cal in 2012 with a degree in Public Health.
4. He Has Praised His Mother For Her Positive Influence
Adrian’s father, Jim, is a retired nuclear engineer. His mother, Cecilia, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, is a retired nurse who worked for the Bremerton School District.
He told People that his mother influenced him in a very positive, yet unique way.
The backseat my mom took was really important for me. All through high school and college, she never took it upon herself to motivate me. She knew that was my coaches’ job and knew ultimately that motivation had to come from me internally. Her not putting too much pressure on me to perform or any of that has been nice.
Adrian has spoken highly of his entire family, and the role they’ve played in his success throughout his career.
“My family has been incredible,” Adrian recently told People. “At the end of the day, I know my family loves me and supports me in whatever I do.”
5. He Has Said Dating as an Elite Athlete Is Difficult
Adrian has admitted that training for the Olympics and dating can be a tricky balance.
“Dating as an Olympic athlete is extremely hard,” he told People before he qualified for the Rio Olympics.
“There are a lot of things that people don’t understand unless they were in the same kind of position you were in. The levels of empathy have to be high in a partner if you are able to have a relationship.”
Adrian told the magazine that he is recently out of a relationship, but remains open to a new one “if the right person comes along.”