Nathan Adrian (Ghar-jun)
(California Golden Blogs Hall of Fame, Class of 2012 inductee)
Sport: Men's swimming (50 Free, 100 Free, 4x100 medley relay, 4x100 free relay)
Birthday: December 7th, 1988 (age 27)
Hometown: Bremerton, Washington
Cal affiliation: California Golden Bears alum (Public Health '12)
Years at Cal: 2007, 2009-2011
Olympic appearances: 2008 (Gold, 4x100 Free relay), 2012 (Gold, 100 Free; Gold, 4x100 Medley relay; Silver, 4x100 Free relay), 2016 will be Nathan's 3rd time as a Calympian
National Champion - that's the term synonymous with Nathan Adrian when one looks at his splendid Cal career. Nathan Adrian owns 5 individual NCAA national championships and 6 relay NCAA national championships. Largely due to his dominance, the Golden Bears as a team won the 2011 team NCAA national championship title as well (with a strong contribution from fellow Calympian in Tom Shields).
Coming out of high school, Nathan Adrian was a top recruit with Olympic aspirations. After a freshman year in 2007 that saw him swim in the free style relays and finish in the top 10 in 100 free at the NCAA, Adrian actually took 2008 off to focus on making the Olympic - a task that he succeeded and resulted in his first Olympic gold (more on that later).
When Nathan Adrian returns to Cal in 2009, he became a dominant force in the NCAA swimming world.
Here are Nathan's NCAA titles:
2009 - 50 Free (18.71 seconds)
2009 - 100 Free (41.08 seconds)
2010 - 100 Free (41.50 seconds)
2010 - 200 Free relay (1:15.71 - Nathan Adrian with Graeme Moore, Josh Daniels, Guy Barnea)
2010 - 400 Free relay (2:48.78 - Nathan Adrian with Graeme Moore, Josh Daniels, Tom Shields)
2010 - 400 Medley relay (3:02.83 - Nathan Adrian for freestyle with Guy Barnea, Damir Dugonjic, Tom Shields)
2011 - 50 Free (18.66 seconds)
2011 - 100 Free (41.10 seconds)
2011 - 400 Free relay (2:47.39 - Nathan Adrian with Graeme Moore, Josh Daniels, Tom Shields)
2011 - 200 Medley relay (1:23.12 - Nathan Adrian for freestyle with Guy Barnea, Damir Dugonjic, Graeme Moore)
2011 - 400 Medley relay (3:02.28 - Nathan Adrian for freestyle with Guy Barnea, Damir Dugonjic, Tom Shields)
2011 - Team NCAA National Championship (first one for Cal since 1980)
That's a pretty remarkable collegiate career. Nathan's Cal career is recapped in this feature from before the 2012 London Games.
According to Nathan Adrian's wikipedia page, he has 24 medals in International competitions - 15 Gold, 6 Silver, and 3 Bronze from the Olympics, the World Championships, and the Pan Pacific Championships.
As a 19 year old, Nathan Adrian finished 4th in the 100 Free of the 2008 U.S. Swim Trials to earn a spot on the 4x100 gold winning U.S. team in Beijing. Nathan actually swam just the heat, breaking the world record in the process. The American quartet that swam the final then broke the world record again later that night.
Of course, Nathan Adrian became an internationally known name from his 2012 London Olympic games achievements. Adrian won Gold in the 100 Free by just out touching Australia's James Magnussen 47.52 over 47.53, breaking the U.S. drought in the 100 free race - some would say the premier swim event of the Olympics.
Adrian added two more relay medals to his haul for a total of 4 Olympic medals. Nathan Adrian can double his Olympic medal count in Rio 2016 games.
More on Nathan and his Rio outlook:
The recent 2016 U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials was memorable for effectively being the changing of the guards. The most dominant Team U.S.A. vet at the meet? That title has got to go to Nathan Adrian. Adrian won not just his signature 100 Free, but also the 50 Free (over former training partner and Cal alum in Anthony Ervin). In Rio next month, Nathan Adrian can win two individual medals and will also likely anchor two USA relays (4x100 medley and 4x100 free).
Being one of the star of the Olympic, particularly the U.S.'s NBC coverage, Nathan Adrian also recently bared all for ESPN the Body magazine (following the lead of training partner Natalie Coughlin last year).
The accompany article (yes, there is an article in addition to the possibly weirdly embedded ESPN video) is well worth the read. Here is an excerpt:
1. His feet are super flat, but also super flexible. I don't have arches. When I get out of the pool and I walk on the cement, I make a full footprint. It's horrible on land. Your arches are pretty elastic, so when you run you kind of store energy as your foot falls on the arch -- as you push off the toe you use that stored energy to move you forward. Unfortunately for me, whenever I had to do land sports I wasn't that good; I wasn't that efficient at running. And for jumping, it's kind of the same thing -- you have to transfer a lot of energy through your foot onto your toe, and for me I don't really have an efficient medium to transfer that energy.
Kicking your feet through the water day in and day out is huge in terms of developing that flexibility in your feet. One of the reasons that it's harder for people to develop into great swimmers if they start swimming when they are a little older is because their ligaments are not necessarily as loose and pliable as they were before. So for us, kicking and being able to point your toe are huge. I'm not quite as flexible as a ballerina, but there are some swimmers that are pretty darn close to that. I get my flat feet from my dad, but I get my mobility from my mom. For someone as tall as I am, I have hyper-mobile joints.
With all the concerns about Rio and the Zika virus and also water contaminants, I wonder what Nathan Adrian, a Cal public health grad, has to think about what's going on there?
Before I finish, I have to mention one of my favorite Nathan Adrian connection, his cameo on the Mythbusters for the episode about swimming in corn syrup. Yes, they end up throwing Adrian's result out, but I have always enjoyed watching this clip.
Expectations are sky high for Nathan Adrian in Rio. I personally think that he's a near lock to double his medal totals (which should make him the most successful Calympian in Rio). What is much more uncertain though, is just which medals will he bring back. The margin in these sprints are so incredibly thin, as we all saw at the London 2012 games, the tiniest fraction can decide the winner. It should be some very exciting ~25 (for the 50 Free) and ~50 (for the 100 Free) seconds next month.
Best of luck to Nathan in Rio and GO BEARS!