Perhaps you haven't yet heard of Nathan Adrian, 23, the U.S. swimmer who won the 100-meter freestyle Wednesday, adding a gold medal to his silver for the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay in 2012, and setting a world personal record at 47.52 seconds. (This is his second gold, his first being as part of the relay team at Beijing in 2008.) He's been a bit overshadowed by team members Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, but we think it's time he's given the attention he deserves, even as we hate to share him. Why to we love him so? Let us count the ways.
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He is adorable. Um, have you seen his Twitter avatar? Even for those of us bigger than such superficial things, that is some pretty freaking jaw-dropping anatomical perfection. And the thing is, in the Olympics, this matters! We're all about these "gods" we've sent to compete on the Mount Olympus of London being, well, attractive, too. We're not being shallow, we're just being honest. Anyway, Adrian is one of the taller on the swim team, 6'6" according to the Team USA website, and 220 pounds. (Phelps is 6'4" and 185 pounds, and Lochte is 6'2" and 185 as well.) In the parlance of many a Northeastern girl, Adrian is tall, tall like he hails from Washington state, which he does. And look at those teeth, and that hair, and that smile! He's like a less vampire-y Edward Cullen.
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He is charming. It was years ago, yes, but we all saw Phelps with the stripper in Vegas, right? And Adrian seems particularly homegrown and sweet in contrast to Floridian Ryan Lochte, who has a tendency to say the worst things —women are evil, really?—and let's just not even talk about the fashions or the general "aura" of "Jeah" coming off of him. (His own mother says he prefers "one night stands.") Of course, maybe Lochte was set up to fail, what with all the pre-Games hype about him as the new golden boy. Fine, fine, let's not judge, let's only note that Adrian does not sport a grill or, apparently, say ridiculous things about women. And when he did win the gold, he appeared completely shocked and humble and thrilled about it. In further comparison, to Phelps, there's an innocence and newness about Adrian's reaction that we crave in our Olympic athletes. Via the A.P., upon his win, "Adrian pounded the water, then put his hands over his eyes while dangling over the lane rope, as if he couldn't believe the '1' beside his name." While of course we admire Phelps, at this point he simply has too many golds for us—or him—to really work up much excitement about another one. Yes, we want our Olympians to win. But we want them to feel the awe and amazement we feel when they do, too.
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Don't just take it from us. The Twitterverse agrees that Adrian's reaction to his win was graceful, sweet, and even a tad bit adorably awkward, maybe. This is the Olympian who can't even believe he quite deserves it, who's surprised to have seen himself get so far. It doesn't seem like an act, but even if it is, it's working.
The awkward and adorable way that Nathan Adrian reacted to his gold medal just stole my heart
— AverageGirlProblems (@AverageGirlPrbs) August 2, 2012
He is young. Heartbreakingly, he was born in the all-to-recent year of 1988. But his being young is good, because it means we'll get to see him again, most likely. He's only 23, in four years he'll be the same age that that old man Phelps is this year.
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He is good at social media! Social media means we have an insight into Adrian's life, and what we see, we like. He describes himself on Twitter as a "Swimmer, Olympian, Child at heart, and I don't care if you think it is gross to brush my teeth in the shower!" He appears to have a great relationship, maybe even a bit of a bro-mance, going on with his Olympic roommate, swimmer and gold medalist Matt Grevers. Matt made Adrian's bed for him when Adrian won the gold, which we then got to see in a photo tweeted out. Look at that adorable comforter, and the place he rests his Olympic head! Adrian also gets this issue we have with spoilers and, in another tweet, acknowledges our concern. And even when he humblebrags, Instagramming his medals and tweeting "Matt and I are doing alright so far!!
#notbadforourtinyroom" we can't help but commend him for his hashtag use.
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He is smart. He graduated with honors with a degree in public health from UC Berkeley. And he wants to be—swoon—a doctor. And he's grounded, too. Via USA Today, after his win: "'My life may change now,' Adrian acknowledged. 'I'm just taking it all in for what it is.'"
He is not perfect. He is messy, according to the looks of his room! Our nurturing Olympic-sized hearts are O.K. with that.
He represents diversity. His mother, Cecilia, is Chinese and was born and raised in Hong Kong. And he's proud of his ethnic heritage:
@paulchi_vaan: @nathangadrian hi nathan i it true that you're half Asian?" absolutely! Half Chinese #hapapride
— Nathan Adrian (@Nathangadrian) July 31, 2012
He seems like he'd be fun to have a drink with. Watch this video of him laughing as he flies a remote-controlled helicopter around a room and show me the man or woman who would say no to a beer with this guy. He's accessible but aspirational, cute, well-mannered, and perfectly suited to our Olympic crush needs. Kinda inspirational, too.
Inset via AP/Mark J. Terrill.