Nathan Adrian, a gold medalist in the 400m Freestyle Relay at the 2008 Beijing Games, became a Raiders fan when he moved from the Northwest to California to go to school at the University of California, Berkeley. Adrian is an 11-time NCAA National Champion, two-time Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, two-time U.S National Champion in 50m and 100m freestyle and has won two medals at the 2011 FINA World Championships. Raiders.com had the opportunity to speak with Adrian about rooting for the Raiders and his recent swimming success as he prepares for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Raiders.com: Can you talk about winning a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics and representing your country?
Adrian: It's just kind of a surreal experience because as much as you want time to slow down and really cherish that moment, it still keeps going past you as quickly as time does. The actual winning of that is just a culmination of my entire career of hard work, of everything I've put into training, culminating into one gold medal. While that is still so amazing and incredible, it's still also makes you hungry hopefully for four years down the road, which happens to be now, in trying to repeat that success.
Raiders.com: You've also won 11 NCAA National Championships in your time at Cal Berkeley. How has that been for you?
Adrian: That's also been incredible. It's a great ride and part of that is not being satisfied with winning something like a National Title. There's always something more. With swimming it's kind of cool because your results are very quantifiable. They're numbers. It's a 50-freestyle time or 100-freestyle time and if you train harder and you perform better, then it is a successful season. And sometimes that doesn't necessary happen. So it's exciting to always try to go a little bit faster.
Raiders.com: Heading into the Olympics in London, what are you most excited about?
Adrian: Just a second chance at trying to perform and do something great. It's so exciting that everybody trains very specifically and very hard for the Olympics. Other years, you hear about Michael [Phelps] maybe not training as seriously or this or that about other big meets in a given year. But this is it. This is the one that everybody prepares for so it's a real test of your skill versus the world.
Raiders.com: How are you able to balance swimming and finishing up at Cal-Berkeley?
Adrian: As I'm talking to you right now, I'm headed up to go find a quiet place to write a response paper real quick. It really comes down to time management. As much as I kind of want to go home and take a nap right now and go home and just watch TV or whatever, now is the time that I have to study. It's just using time effectively and efficiently.
Raiders.com: Does being an elite athlete give you an appreciation for what it takes for a football player to be successful?
Adrian: Yes, absolutely. It all comes down to treating your body right and really trying to perform at the top level. And something about the NFL that's a little different than swimming is that you can kind of see the athleticism in the different players and that's really cool to witness and watch that athleticism develop using your talent as an athlete and developing it into skill.
Raiders.com: When and how did you become a Raiders fan?
Adrian: Moving down to the Bay Area from the Seattle area it was kind of a natural transition. I moved in with a couple Raiders fans. Actually one of them was a 49ers fan, but I hooked on to the Raiders side of things.
Raiders.com: How often do you attend Raider games?
Adrian: I haven't, actually. The last time the guys went, I was actually traveling for some swimming stuff.
Raiders.com:But it's in your future plans right?
Adrian: Oh, absolutely. I've heard nothing but good things.
Raiders.com: What were your impressions of the Raider fan base?
Adrian: Unique and exciting. That's one of the reasons why I definitely want to go. It's so passionate.
Raiders.com: What's your favorite Raiders memory?
Adrian: I think it's a montage of Janikowski's kicks, especially the long ones. It's just so exciting. He attempted a 70-yard kick or something one season or when he was up in Denver and set or tied the record. It's so ridiculous because I see a football field and then I go halfway down and then I go even farther and imagine trying to kick a football that far and then through uprights. It's just incredible. On TV it looks so much easier than it does in person.
Raiders.com: What are you most looking forward to for the Raiders 2012 season?
Adrian: The Raiders have so much talent and especially having Carson Palmer coming in the middle of the season, I think everything is going to hopefully click next season and really that talent can translate itself into more wins and a better record. You see certain plays and certain drives when everything meshes well, it just looks like they're absolutely unbeatable. But if they can get some more consistency, it's just going to come together.
Raiders.com: Is there anything you can take from watching football and apply it to competing in swimming?
Adrian: Yes, absolutely. You think about the high pressure situations. People that are successful are the people that get it done during those high pressure situations. They have the combine or other places, some people are super successful because they have a dozen opportunities to try to perform well and one of those times they'll do a great job. But in something like the NFL, you get one shot at a certain play and the guys that are making big plays are just very consistent with it. That's something that anybody in athletics can take away from it.