Nathan Adrian Is 'Thankful' to Have Swimming Career During Pandemic: 'I Am Fortunate'

The five-time gold medalist is grateful to still have his job amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Over the past year, many Americans have lost their jobs or businesses as the country tries to keep the economy afloat amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As swimmer Nathan Adrian prepares for his fourth Olympic Games, he tells PEOPLE that he feels incredibly lucky that he's been able to keep his swimming career amidst a time of difficulty for all.

"This pandemic has thrown a wrench in so many people's lives," Adrian says. "I am fortunate to still be able to do my job. I mean, so many, in so many industries, have been absolutely devastated and I absolutely feel for them through this time. I'm very thankful for the position that I'm in."

Martin Meissner/AP

While the Tokyo Games were originally set to begin on July 23 and go until Aug. 8, 2020, and are now happening during the same timeframe in 2021, the postponement was not announced until March 2020.

Adrian, 32, says that waiting in limbo for the postponement decision was a trying time for him and many other athletes.

"They put off the postponement for so long that it got really, really stressful," says Adrian. "It was really difficult for athletes, especially those athletes in the United States that are maybe younger, or don't have the resources to be absolutely certain that they would have a place to train or a place to facilitate that training."

Nathan Adrian

Despite rumors of possible cancellation, Adrian feels going forward with the Games was the "right call."

"I mean, we have a long enough lead time now that, you know โ€” barring anything crazy or unforeseen โ€” it will be able to run smoothly, in my opinion," says Adrian.

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The eight-time medalist says he has so much to be thankful for in 2021, including his health. Adrian announced in January 2019 that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. The swimmer underwent several surgeries and was cleared to get back into the pool that following February.

Nathan Adrian/Instagram

"I'm feeling great. All things considered, where we were a month ago, I'm back in the water, I'm training," he said on the Today show at the time. "My doctors lifted all the restrictions, so it's about getting back on track where we need to be."

The Olympian also was blessed this year with the arrival of his beautiful baby girl, Parker Jacquelyn, in February of this year.

"Welcome to the world Parker Jacquelyn Adrian!!! You are loved more than you can know right now but we have plenty of time to show you ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜," the swimmer wrote on his Instagram of his newborn baby.

As Adrian now balances dad duties with his training, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is preparing for the Games on their end by recently establishing COVID guidelines, which includes a ban on physical touch between athletes.

"All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] are fully focused on hosting the games this summer," the local organizing committee said in a statement, according to ESPN. "We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure games."

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer on NBC.

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