Nathan Adrian is headed to his third Olympics next month in Rio

Nathan Adrian

Nathan Adrian faces many pressures as an Olympic swimmer. But among the training and competitive strains lies a little-talked-about struggle: dating.

“Dating as an Olympic athlete is extremely hard,” the 27-year-old told PEOPLE shortly before he qualified for the Rio Olympics, his third Summer Games, late last month.

“There are a lot of things that people don’t understand unless they were in the same kind of position you were in. The levels of empathy have to be high in a partner if you are able to have a relationship.”

Adrian, who says he just came out of a relationship, also said that he’s open to a new one “if the right person comes along.” And the new Tommy Hilfiger menswear ambassador is not opposed to being asked out himself.

“I’ve certainly had those dreams of someone sweeping me off my feet,” he admitted. “Maybe I’m supposed to do the sweeping, but either way.”

For now, however, Adrian’s focus is on Rio after winning the men’s 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha. His victory comes four years after taking home a gold medal in the same competition at the 2012 London Olympics. He also earned gold in the 4×100-meter medley, and silver in the 4×100-meter freestyle in those Games alongside teammates including Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. At his Olympic debut, at the 2008 Beijing Games, he also brought home gold in the 4×100-meter freestyle.

Out of the pool, Adrian says the person he ends up with better be an avid Game of Thrones fan: Adrian said he watches the HBO show every week with friends.

“It’s an automatic each week that I get to hang out with my friends outside of my swimming, training partners. It helps me balance out my life and helps me reset and get ready for the week.”

And while he may not have that special someone in his life right now, the Washington native does have a very supportive family.

“My family has been incredible,” Adrian said. “At the end of the day, I know my family loves me and supports me in whatever I do.”

He also went on to praise his mother, Cecilia, who influenced him in a really unique way.

“The backseat my mom took was really important for me. All through high school and college, she never took it upon herself to motivate me. She knew that was my coaches’ job and knew ultimately that motivation had to come from me internally. Her not putting too much pressure on me to perform or any of that has been nice,” he pointed out.

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Leading up to Rio, Adrian is focusing on training and diet.

“I [don’t have] a very specific diet and I don’t watch volume, but I watch content,” he said. “The kind of food I want is low-fat meats, and I do what I can to not get as much sources of fats from animals. I try to source my fats from plants.”

“On top of that, sugars and carbs are great before, during and immediately after practice, but I try to stick to more complex carbs when I don’t have a practice in the next hour or so,” he added.

As for a guilty pleasure? “Deep dish pizza is my go to cheat meal,” Adrian admitted.

To learn more about all Olympic hopefuls, visit The Rio Olympics begin August 5 on NBC