By Kendra Hansey | Aug. 07, 2019, 2:12 a.m. (ET)

Nathan Adrian prepares to dive in the pool at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 7, 2019 in Lima, Peru.

 

LIMA, Peru – A maestro when it comes to intense training and battling in the water on the largest of stages, three-time Olympian and eight-time Olympic medalist Nathan Adrian faced unfamiliar territory eight months ago when he received a testicular cancer diagnosis.

Spending the next few months in surgeries, physical therapy and going all out to get better and healthy, Adrian announced his return to swimming in May.

“That’s taken care of right now,” Adrian said of his health. “Now, it’s figuring out how to swim fast.”

The Pan American Games Lima 2019 is only Adrian’s second international competition after receiving his diagnosis.

Coming hot off of winning the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and setting a new world championship record at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships, Adrian competed in the same event on Tuesday in his Pan American Games debut. 

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Michael Chadwick, Drew Kibler and Grant House laid the groundwork as Adrian anchored the race for Team USA. Coming up 2.33 seconds shy of the win, the relay squad earned silver.

More than times or medals, what’s important to Adrian in terms of finding his rhythm again is going through his process. Lima provides Adrian with the best practice for an Olympic Games – from the village to the dining hall to competing, the atmosphere is helping him get back into his routine and get back into racing shape.

The veteran knows that in every quad, the year before the Games has a cycle of ups and downs – people that are swimming well in the fall may not swim well the following summer and vice versa. Everyone starts on a clean slate.

In reality, he’s just excited to be back.

“I’m happy to be here,” Adrian said. “I’m happy to be competing. (Swimming) is home for me. This is where I’m happy…It feels good to just race. It feels good to feel a bit of excitement from the crowd and understand what the Pan Am Games mean to all the countries involved and watch fast swims happen.”

A lot has changed for Adrian in the past few months, including perspective.

“While I dream, live, eat and sleep winning medals, at the end of the day, there are other things that are equally as important or more important in my life,” Adrian said. “I had a very real and good realization of that, and I’m happy that happened when I’m 30 rather than much further down the line.”

Although he’s not where he wants to be in terms of times in the pool quite yet, he’s not off to a shabby start.

Team USA made a splash on Tuesday, swimming away with eight medals, three golds, three silvers and two bronzes, on the first night of competition at Lima 2019. On Wednesday, the competition for the women’s and men’s 200 free, 100 butterfly and 200 backstroke and mixed 4x100 free relay will commence.