Nathan Adrian


"There's a lot to be said, but until you actually get into the water and do it, it all doesn't mean anything."

Nathan Adrian

Nathan Adrian is a U.S. sprinter, born in Washington state as the youngest of three kids. Born Dec. 7, 1988 Adrian began swimming because his older siblings were involved — he began taking lessons by 2 and joined the team by 5, but years later the 6’6″ freestyler would become one of the top sprinters in the world.

Personal life

Adrian was born to a Nuclear Engineer and a Nurse — his mother, Cecilia, is Chinese, and was born and raised in Hong Kong. Family is an important part of Adrian’s life since they have supported him from the beginning. His two siblings were also swimmers — brother, Justin, swam for Washington State and sister, Donella, swam for Arizona State.

Courtesy of Tim Binning

One month after Swimswam launched, it was garnering respectable traffic and slowly creeping into the swimconscious of it’s fanbase. Then in late March of 2012, Nathan Adrian had a bit of a suit malfunction. Swimswam published the pictures (with Nathan’s permission), and it launched the website into the national spotlight.

In May of 2017, Nathan announced his engagement to girlfriend and Stanford diving alum, Hallie Ivester. The couple were married on September 15th, 2018.

College swimming

After a highly successful high school career, Adrian chose to swim for UC Berkeley in northern California. In 2007, just a freshman at Cal Berkeley, Adrian swam on the freestyle relays, and he posted a top-10 finish in the individual 100-yard freestyle. He made the difficult decision to take the next year off of Cal, and train with his former coach in Fla.

Nathan Adrian, 200 medley relay, 2011 NCAA Championships (Photo Credit: Tim Binning)

Nathan Adrian, 200 medley relay, 2011 NCAA Championships (Photo Credit: Tim Binning)

When Adrian returned to Cal after his break from collegiate swimming he took the NCAA by storm. He won the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard distance, winning the sprint crown of the year. His junior season was just as impressive, winning both sprint events again, and during his senior year he repeated his sprint wins and this time finished eighth in the 100-yard fly.

Throughout his collegiate years, Adrian ultimately became a five-time individual NCAA champion and graduated from Cal in 2012 with a degree in Public Health.

Beijing Olympics

In 2008, the year he took off from collegiate swimming to focus on the trials, Adrian made his Olympic Trials debut, placing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle and sixth in the 50-meter freestyle. His finishes qualified him to swim on the 400-meter freestyle relay, which went on to win a gold medal in Beijing.

2012 Olympics

Photo Credit: Tim Binning, theswimpictures

Four years after his Olympic debut, Adrian returned to the Olympic scene in search of individual victory. He qualified in the 100-meter freestyle and was part of the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley relay teams (the latter was Phelps’ famed “last race”). In London, he won gold in the 100-meter freestyle individually, just one one-hundredth of a second quicker than Australia’s famed sprinter, James Magnussen.

Post-London career

In 2013, Adrian earned a bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle at the World Championships, and also finished second in the 400-meter freestyle relay and fourth in the 50-meter freestyle. He continued his sprint dominance at 2013 Phillips 66 Nationals, winning both the 50 and 100-meter freestyles.

In 2014, Adrian again won the 100-meter freestyle at the national meet and placed second in the 50-meter freestyle, thus qualifying for the 2014 Pan Pacs. He won silver in the 100-meter freestyle and bronze in the 50-meter freestyle, and also won gold as part of the 400-meter medley relay team. He currently trains with Cal and holds the American record in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events.

2015 World Championships

courtesy of Tim Binning,

At the 2015 World Championships Adrian had quite the lineup performing on both individual and relay spots. After a disappointing 4×100-meter free relay, where the American men didn’t advance to the final, Adrian came back in the 4×100-meter Mixed free relay, where the Americans not only earned a gold medal, but broke the World Record in 3:23.05 (Adrian going second and splitting 47.29).

In the semi-final of the 50-meter free Adrian finally broke the six-year standing American Record previously held by Cullen Jones by 0.03 seconds. Adrian advanced to the final in first, but lost in the final to Florent Manadou. He also snuck into the final of the 100-meter free after finishing fifth overall in the semi-final. Adrian dropped .05 seconds in the final to grab a seventh-place finish.

Towards the end of the meet Adrian won a gold medal as the anchor leg of the 4×100-meter medley relay. Adrian swam the second-fastest split in the meet behind Australia’s Cameron McEvoy.

2016 U.S Olympic Trials

Adrian qualified for his third Olympic Games with a win in the 100 meter freestyle in Omaha. He finished half a second ahead of the field in 47.72. He added another gold and another individual event in the 50 meter freestyle. He just beat out Anthony Ervin at the touch by 0.01 seconds.

2016 Rio Olympics

courtesy of simone castrovillari

Adrian brought Team USA home to a gold medal in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. His split for the anchor leg was 46.97, and he was the only swimmer in the field to dip under the 47 mark. He was joined by Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps and Ryan Held to take the gold.

In the 100 meter freestyle, Adrian looked to defend his Olympic title but had to settle for bronze. He went out well, turning in second place and then took the lead starting down the home stretch. But a young and extremely talented Aussie, Kyle Chalmers came from 7th position to take down the rest of the field. He took gold and Belgium’s Pieter Timmers beat Adrian to the touch by 5 hundredths of a second. Adrian touched in 47.85 for bronze.

In the 50 meter freestyle, Adrian raced to another bronze medal in 21.49, 0.09 seconds behind his country mate, Antony Ervin who took the gold. France’s Florent Manaudou came in second.

He finished his third Olympics with another gold medal in the 4×100 meter medley relay. Adrian took the reins on the freestyle leg, with a good lead from his teammates Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller and Michael Phelps. He split 46.74 to bring Team USA the final swimming gold medal of the 2016 Rio Olympics in 3:27.95, a new Olympic Record.

2017 Superhero Issue SwimSwam Magazine Cover

Shortly before the 2017 World Championship trials, Adrian was featured on the cover of SwimSwam Magazine‘s Superhero issue. Featured on the cover is Nathan, captured by Mike Lewis, dawning super hero attire and looking all but mortal. But inside, the reader finds a tale told by Kip Fulbeck on how Nathan is a relatable super hero, one a normal person can empathize with and converse with and see themselves as one day.

2017 World Championship Trials

Adrian qualified for the 2017 World Championships with a gold medal swim in the 100 meter freestyle final. He touched first in 47.96. He added the 50 meter freestyle to his schedule in Budapest after finishing second behind Caeleb Dressel.

2017 FINA World Championships

Adrian helped Team USA (Caeleb Dressel, Townley Haas & Blake Pieroni) to a gold medal performance in the 4×100 freestyle relay on day one of World Championships in a time of 3:10.06.  Teammate Caeleb Dressel leadoff the relay in a new American record 100m freestyle – 47.26.

He was back in action along with Dressel in the 100 meter freestyle final on day five. Adrian finished second in 47.87 behind Dressel.

Adrian also swam the 50 meter freestyle but missed out on the final finishing 10th in 21.83 in the semi-final.

2017 Winter National Championships

Adrian competed in Columbus, Ohio and touched the wall first in the sprint freestyle events. He broke his own Championship Record in both, 50 and 100 freestyle, with the times of 18.77 and 41.22.

2018 U.S. National Championships

Adrian was runnerup in the 100 freestyle (48.25) and finished third in the 50 freestyle (21.85) at the Phillips 66 National Championships.

2018 Pan Pacific Championships

On day 2, Adrian swam in the prelims of the 100 free, and ultimately wound up finishing 2nd in the B-final (48.32). On day 3, Adrian anchored the men’s 4×100 free relay to victory (47.27) but they ultimately would be DQ’ed for swimming in the wrong order. On day 4, He finished off his pan pacs performance with a gold in the men’s 4×100 medley relay, anchoring in 47.71 in what ended up being the closest relay finish of the meet, touching Japan out for gold by a mere .05.

2018 Winter National Championships

In Greensboro at the 2018 Winter Nats, Nathan swam the 50 and 100 freestyle. He touched first in the 50 (21.94) and placed 2nd in the 100 (48.59) behind Michael Chadwick.

Testicular Cancer

On January 24, 2019, Nathan Adrian announced he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 30. He broke the bad news on social media, along with a message of hope for fans and an affirmation that he will continue training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic. Less than a week later, he underwent a laparoscopic RPLND procedure to treat his recently-diagnosed cancer. He posted on social media to tell fans that the treatment went well.

Originally developed by Natalie Schumann.

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2008 Olympic Games
Gold 100 Free 2012 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2012 Olympic Games
Silver 400 Freestyle Relay 2012 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2016 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2016 Olympic Games
Bronze 50 Free 2016 Olympic Games
Bronze 100 Free 2016 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2009 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2009 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2011 World Championships
Bronze 400 Freestyle Relay 2011 World Championships
Silver 400 Freestyle Relay 2013 World Championships
Bronze 100 Free 2013 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2015 World Championships
Gold 400 Mixed Free Relay 2015 World Championships
Silver 50 Free 2015 World Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2017 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2017 World Championships
Gold 400 Mixed Free Relay 2017 World Championships
Silver 100 Free 2017 World Championships
Gold 100 Free 2008 Short Course World Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2008 Short Course World Championships
Silver 400 Medley Relay 2008 Short Course World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2018 Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2014 Pan Pacific Championships
Silver 400 Freestyle Relay 2014 Pan Pacific Championships
Silver 100 Free 2014 Pan Pacific Championships
Bronze 50 Free 2014 Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 50 Free 2010 Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 100 Free 2010 Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2010 Pan Pacific Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2010 Pan Pacific Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
scy 50 Free 18.66 03/24/11 2011 NCAA D1 Championships
Minneapolis, Minnesota
scy 100 Free 41.08 03/26/09 2009 NCAA D1 Championships
College Station, Texas
scy 200 Free 1:32.83 12/05/14 2014 US Winter Nationals
Greensboro, North Carolina
lcm 50 Free 21.37 08/07/15 2015 FINA World Championships
Kazan, Russia
lcm 100 Free 47.52 07/28/12 2012 Olympic Games
London, England
Nathan Adrian in the 100 free at the 2015 FINA world championships Kazan Russia (photo: Mike Lewis, Ola Vista Photography) Nathan Adrian on his way to the win in the 50 freestyle at the 2015 Duel in the Pool (photo: Mike Lewis) Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian, Simone Manuel, and Missy Franklin break the World Record in the mixed 4x100 free relay at 2015 FINA World Championships (courtesy of Tim Binning, Nathan Adrian, 2008 & 2012 Olympian, World Champion (Tim Binning, theswimpictures) Nathan Adrian, 100 freestyle semi final, 2013 FINA World Championships (photo credit: Victor Puig,

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