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This is a story of full dedication and strong determination. This is the story of Eric Shanteau, the swimmer who was diagnosed with testicular cancer a week before the 2008 Olympic trials. But regardless of this, he chose to compete in the meet. He competed in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2008 Summer Olympics, where he posted a personal best time even though he missed the finals by thirteen one-hundredths (0.13) of a second.
Eric Shanteau was born in Snellville, Georgia. He went to Parkview High School in Lilburn, Georgia. He became a national swimming champion there, while maintaining a perfect GPA of 4.0. Eric Shanteau was an 11-time All American at Auburn University. Shanteau won the silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley at World University Games in 2003. In 2005 at World University Games, he won gold in both the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley, which made him the first American to clear both events. In 2004 United States Olympic Trials, Eric Shanteau was placed third in the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley events. He also managed to earn eleventh place in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Eric Shanteau showed up utmost courage to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics even after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer just a week before the trials. After the game when he returned to the United States, Shanteau underwent surgery to remove the cancerous testicle. He had the surgery after consulting with experts at the Lance Armstrong Foundation, where he learned about doctors and procedures and drug protocols. Shanteau chose to skip the drug cocktail even though he was advised by the doctors for having a course of preventive chemotherapy.
“If I didn’t have the chemo, the chance of recurrence in the first year was 35-40%. If I did that chemo round, those numbers dropped to 1%. But the thing with the chemo cocktail is that even one round might sterilize you. I wanted to stay away from that. And it would have affected my swimming for a while.” Said Eric Shanteau.
Shanteau not only survived the deadly disease, but it took him only 3 weeks post surgery to be back in to the pool. Post surgery, Shanteau won many championships and made some of the personal best. He was placed second in 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. National Championships and World Championship trials in Indianapolis, Indiana in the year 2009. Shanteau was also placed second in the 200-meter individual medley. That made him the third fastest performer ever in that event. He won the 200 meter breaststroke final, breaking his own American record.
Eric Shanteau made the U.S. team to get the second position in the 100-meter breaststroke at 2012 Olympics. In the same year, at Summer Olympics, he was placed fourth in the second semifinal of the 100-meter breaststroke. He won a gold medal by swimming the breaststroke leg as a part of the winning U.S. team in the preliminaries of the 4×100-meter medley relay.
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There is no doubt that for Eric Shanteau, it has been a tremendous tough yet meaningful journey post cancer. Eric Shanteau not only survived cancer but chose to undergo the critical surgery instead of chemo, so that it does not affect his swimming career. He now remains actively involved with Live strong Foundation and continues to host his annual ‘Swim for Your Life‘ Challenge each September at Lake Lanier Islands.
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