Nathan Adrian chasing rare Olympic swimming feat in Rio

Three-time U.S. gold medalist Nathan Adrian has made immense progress in and above the water throughout his first two Olympics.

This summer, Adrian, 27, hopes to become the first American swimmer to win the 100 freestyle in back-to-back Games since 1928.

“I love that idea and that romantic notion of being the first American in so many years to accomplish that feat,” said Adrian on a call with amNewYork while promoting Citi’s #StandForProgress campaign. “For me, it’s just truly trying to be better.”

Since his Olympic debut in 2008, Adrian has won four medals — two gold and a silver at the London 2012 Games, along with a gold as a 19-year-old in Beijing as a member of the world record-setting U.S. 400 freestyle relay team. Now, his focus is turned toward this summer’s Rio Olympics.

As the Games approach, concerns about the Zika virus continue to linger. However, Adrian places his confidence in U.S. officials.

“I don’t think they would allow us to go anywhere if there was a serious health threat,” he said. “I’m confident that we’re going to be in a safe place, whether it is the village itself or the pool. They put a bubble over the warm-down pool, and it’s not actually mosquito season right now.”

The Bremerton, Washington native will make his return to CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska — the pool which vaulted him into his first Olympics eight years ago — for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials beginning Sunday.

“The team is in a really, really awesome place, and I am so excited,” said Adrian, who was announced Tuesday as a featured athlete in ESPN The Magazine’s upcoming annual Body Issue. “Last Games, the medal count didn’t necessarily reflect how we were as a nation. This year we’re going to have some really amazing swims and some young athletes who will step up during medal contention.”