Freestyle swimmer Nathan Adrian is one of the brightest Asian American prospects for a medal at this month’s London Olympic Games — and one of the most popular members of the USA Olympic team to boot. Not only is the half-Chinese Cal grad a gold medalist from the 2008 Beijing Games, he has the kind of looks and fun-loving personality that energizes teammates and attracts media focus.
Adrian’s underground popularity on the blogosphere exploded after the 2012 Indianapolis Grand Prix when his suit ripped down the back seam just as he was diving off the block. He won the race anyway — and thousands of new fans who admired not only what the tear revealed about his physique but also about his focus and determination. Those assets are expected to serve him well in London when pressure can produce surprises and upsets.
Nathan Adrian was born on December 7, 1988 in Bremerton, Washington, the third of three children of a Chinese mother born in Hong Kong and a caucasian father who worked as a nuclear engineer. Adrian’s older sister swam at Arizona State and older brother Justin swam at the University of Washington. Their influence induced Adrian to take up swimming at the age of five. He swam for Bremerton High School before enrolling at UC Berkeley in the fall of 2006. He became one of Cal’s most successful swimmers, winning individual NCAAchampionships in the 50-yard freestyle in 2009 and 2011 and the 100-yard freestyle in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He also led Cal to the NCAASwimming National Championship in 2011.
Adrian has cultivated a large Twitter following with frequent amusing updates about his personal and competitive life. His fans know a great deal about his enthusiasm for yoga and for cooking. Among family and friends his nickname is Bok Choy, a type of Chinese cabbage.
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