Olympic Journey - 2009
Nathan Adrian is splashing the world
If Cecilia Adrian wasn’t tech savvy before July, she is now.
The mother of 2006 Bremerton High School grad Nathan Adrian has been glued to glowing screens for the better part of the month, watching her son splash onto the world swimming scene.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time on the internet,” Cecilia said. “The first thing in the morning, I get up at 7 a.m. and read all the newspapers. Then I watch all his swim meets online.”
Cecilia watched her 20-year-old son, who attends the University of California at Berkeley, swim a career-defining 100-meter split Sunday to anchor the U.S. 400 freestyle relay team to a come-from-behind, first-place finish at the World Swimming Championships in Rome.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 215-pound Bremerton native was the fourth and final member of the U.S. team to hit the water. He watched teammate and swimming giant Michael Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold medalist, lead off with a split of 47.78 seconds that put America 0.69 off the pace. Ryan Lochte swam the second leg and Matt Grevers the third.
Blistering in 46.79 — nearly a full second faster than Phelps’ opener — Adrian passed both the French and Russian anchors to give the U.S. a winning time of 3 minutes, 9.21 seconds. Russia finished second in 3:09.52, while France settled for bronze at 3:09.89.
Back in Bremerton, Cecilia watched with wide eyes as Phelps hung over the edge of the pool, screaming for Nathan to deliver a victory. The split is being compared to that of Jason Lezak’s at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, when Lezak chased down Frenchman Alain Bernard to give the Americans gold in the 400 relay by eight-hundredths of a second, keeping Phelps’ historic gold medal streak in tact.
“It’s a lot of nervous energy for me,” Cecilia said.
Nathan, whose older brother Justin is the head swim coach at Bremerton, earned a gold medal in Beijing as a member of that 400 relay team, but he did not swim in the dramatic finals. He swam a leg in prelims to help the team to a then-world record.
Sunday’s World Championship race was Nathan’s coming out party.
On Wednesday, however, he failed to qualify for the finals in the 100 free, finishing 10th in prelims with a time of 48.13. The top eight advanced. He’ll get another chance to win an individual medal today in the 50 free. He also is expected to earn a spot on the 400 medley relay team, which races tomorrow.
“I think he’s all geared up for those events,” Cecilia said.
Cecilia and husband Jim looked into flying to Italy to watch their son in person, but the airfare was too expensive. Nathan, meanwhile, flew from Indianapolis to Italy without making a return trip to Bremerton.
Cecilia and Jim have since settled on e-mail communication because Nathan doesn’t have a phone with an international calling plan.
“He didn’t have any time to go home,” Cecilia said. “I miss seeing him on the podium in person. I sure miss that, with the flag and when the national anthem is played.”
But Cecilia said she couldn’t be more proud. She called Nathan an aquatic version of the “new kid on the block,” referring to the lofty reputations of teammates Phelps, Lochte and Grevers.
Nathan’s on his way.
“They have all made a name for themselves, established themselves, and he’s the up-and-comer,” Cecilia said.
Bremerton’s latest swimming sensation is set to return home for about 10 days in August, at which time he will catch up with friends, family and rest before the next round of swimming — and school — begins.
“He’s coming home after Italy,” she said. “I just hope the weather isn’t so crazy.”
Wesley Remmer, Bremerton Patriot, July 31, 2009.
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