Texas A&M Freshman Ethan Gogulski Diagnosed with Testicular Cancer

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 17

February 27th, 2019 College, News, SEC

Texas A&M freshman Ethan Gogulski finished 9th in the 200 back at the 2019 SEC Championship meet, swimming a 1:41.35 to win the B-Final. That time ranks him 4th among all freshmen nationally and 23rd among all swimmers nationally: a result to be commended regardless of circumstance.

But for Ethan Gogulski, it’s an achievement made all-the-more impressive by the fact that it was done less than 2 weeks after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

On Sunday, February 10th, Gogulski said he noticed something irregular in his testicles, and texted his dad, who is a physician, to ask him about it. His dad agreed with Gogulski’s concern, and helped him see a doctor to get a formal diagnoses. It turns out that that irregularity was stage 1 testicular cancer.

“I would’ve been happy with my performance either way,” Gogulski said via phone on Wednesday. “I dropped a lot of time this season, I was really happy with everything. But having the diagnosis 2 weeks before the meet and still being able to go and drop time…it was a cool thing and felt really good to know that I could overcome that emotionally.

“Nobody likes hearing the “Cancer” word, but right before a meet it’s really something that can psych you out.”

Gogulski said that the formal recommendation from both his doctor and his dad was to have the surgery to address the issue right away and then do his best to swim at SECs after the surgery. But Ethan felt that he had worked too hard, and knowing that the surgery would be painful, decided to push off the surgery for a couple of weeks and to swim at SECs anyway. He said that while the doctor’s formal recommendation was immediate surgery, that he also didn’t believe that there was any serious risk of the tumor metastasizing in the 2 weeks.

So Gogulski raced last week in Athens, swimming lifetime bests in both the 200 back as mentioned above and the 100 back, where he went 47.72. On Monday, he underwent surgery to remove the cancer, and while he’s still waiting on final lab results, he says that the surgeon’s report was positive.

Gogulski says that his short course season is probably over (he doesn’t think he’ll have time to get back in the water before a last chance meet to chase the last few tenths that he would need to earn an invite to NCAAs), but feels good about his decision.

He did get the chance to talk to 5-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian, who in January was also diagnosed with testicular cancer.

“We both agreed that it’s important to get checked out and that  it affects a lot more people than you’d think, even though still sort of a rare thing,” Gogulski said of their conversation. “I don’t think that it should be something that you’d be that embarrassed about. I don’t think that going to see the doctor about anything like that should be embarrassing. I was lucky that I had my dad to discuss it with, but everyone should be getting regular checkups. Health is important, and if you find something that’s a red flag, just go and get it checked out.”

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2 years ago

I honestly wonder, due to tight suits male swimmers have a higher risk of testicular cancer than the general male population. I am not doctor, I just wonder if compression can create a higher likelyhood.

Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

You know now of 2 male swimmers who have testicular cancer- that doesn’t mean there are more male swimmers with the disease than in the general population. Unlike women with breast cancer which has had years of people discussing it and wearing pink, men are not quick to talk about testicular cancer. Nathan Adrian is 30 years old, average age of diagnosis is 33 years of age. For men 14 to 40 it is the most diagnosed form of cancer. Lucky for most, it is a very curable cancer.

Reply to  HappyFan
2 years ago

Scott Span also had it and was diagnosed just before Olympics if I am not mistaken

Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

Eric Shanteau was diagnosed just prior to Trials in 2008. But, like you said, I don’t think it’s any more prevalent in swimmers. Although maybe swimmers and athletes in general are more likely to recognize something abnormal and not “putting it off”. High performance athletes are probably more comfortable seeing doctors than the general population and also probably have better access to medical care than most.

Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

At least 3 if you include Eric Shanteau. There is actually a higher prevlance in endurance athletes in general. A theory is the amount of extra oxygen consumed throughout a training career vs. an average person results in more of a chance of oxygen free radical development which is a risk factor for cancer. there has also been several high profile cases in cyclists (Lance Armstrong most famous) and they were also blaming the saddle as a potential risk. So the suit issue, issues while turning, etc. might also be considerations. Also there is a likely genetic component.

Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

Compression and/or the increased exposure to the chemicals in the pool. I do think there are many cancers non reported. Would love to see scientific studies.

Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

Hats off to Ethan. Staying in the moment and going for it, very cool.

Swim Fan
2 years ago

It’s awesome that young men like Nathan Adrian and Ethan are raising public awareness about the symptoms and signs of testicular cancer – and telling men not to ignore things and pay attention to any changes in their bodies. Lives will likely be saved thanks to them coming forward and sharing their stories.

Shreyush Shankar
2 years ago

To show your support, do the #ethanstrong challenge!! Take a video of you doing the stanky leg and post it online and nominate 3 people!

Reply to  Shreyush Shankar
2 years ago

Shrey youre a silly goose

2 years ago

Damn. Nitro kid. Always goofy around pool and fun to be around. Our son loves him. Swims backstroke right way: tall, smart, with aggressive arms. Always liked to watch him swim it. He always loved swimming backstroke so much, I once DQ-ed him at the UT Swim Center meet because he continued swimming back for the breast leg of a 100 IM race. Happy for his swimming success and he will be fine.

2 years ago

Honestly one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a while.

2 years ago

Best wishes for the young man. If anyone has family or friends fighting cancer, I highly recommend an organization called Imerman Angels, which matches current patients with cancer survivors of the same cancer type for coaching and encouragement. Nothing like getting advice and advocacy from someone who has gone through the exact same thing.


Hook ’em

Staci Roberson
2 years ago

SO very very proud of you Ethan!! Thank you for speaking up and reminding moms that have boys to tell them to check your testicles! Just like self breast exams boys need to pay attention to any changes at all!! We love you and are so proud of you!

2 years ago

What a boss! That’s gotta be a hard pill to swallow and to put that aside for a week and focus on racing and your team….hats off man! #Courage Good luck going forward

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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