INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Eric Shanteau is swimming faster than he ever has, diving into the water every day knowing that he's cancer-free.
That's gratifying news to the 25-year-old breaststroker who was diagnosed with testicular cancer just weeks before last year's U.S. Olympic trials.
The Parvkview High School alumnus kept the stunning information to himself while competing for a spot on his first Olympic team. Shanteau earned a spot in the 200-meter breaststroke, finishing 10th in Beijing with a personal-best time.
Then he returned home to Atlanta for surgery. After a recovery period, Shanteau resumed training in Austin, Texas, with a goal of making the world championships.
He's four laps away from a trip to Rome later this month.
Shanteau became the second American to swim under a minute in the 100 breaststroke, clocking 59.89 seconds in Tuesday's preliminaries at the U.S. national championships.
He returned in the evening final to finish second behind two-time Olympian Mark Gangloff, who won in an American-record time of 59.01.
Shanteau touched in 59.45, and he'll join Gangloff on the world team.
"It's not bad at all, especially for a 100," Shanteau said. "It's a testament to what the human body and mind especially is capable of."
The doctor who declared Shanteau to be cancer free presented medals to the eight finalists.
"It's real special to have him here with me tonight," Shanteau said. "This meet and why I'm here today is just living proof that a disease like that can't beat you. You can still live your life the way you want to."
Since March, Shanteau has posted personal bests in his signature events, the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. His 100 time in the morning preliminaries lowered his previous best of 1:00.09.
He wore the X Glide suit by Arena for the first time Tuesday. It's one of the suits approved by swimming's world governing body for competition this year.
"Obviously the suits are going to help out, but regardless of what suit I wore, I knew I was going to be under a minute this week," he said.
With Brendan Hansen taking time off, Shanteau is poised to move into the role of dominant American breaststroker that Hansen has owned for the last several years.
Shanteau wants more than just to compete in the individual breaststroke events in Rome. He is aiming to succeed Hansen on the medley relay team, and likely needs to win the 100 to ensure he would swim in the final in Rome rather than just in the prelims.
Just before traveling to Indianapolis, Shanteau went for a final round of blood tests that confirmed he is cancer-free, the 10th month he can celebrate such welcome news.
But memories of his recent past are never far away.
"There's still that thought in the back of your mind, 'What if there's a recurrence?'" he said. "It's been a difficult past eight or nine months. I have to live with it the rest of my life."
The disease had already hit home for Shanteau, whose father Rick battled lung cancer at the same time his son was diagnosed. The elder Shanteau is in Indianapolis this week to cheer on his son, and now needs only occasional chemotherapy treatments.
"He's doing really well," the younger Shanteau said smiling.
Happily, Shanteau can say the same about himself.
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