You were diagnosed with testicular cancer right before competing in the 2008 Olympics. You’re now cancer-free—how has cancer changed your philosophy?
Eric Shanteau: Having cancer changed my whole perspective on swimming and life. I think I was a really good swimmer before cancer, but I was a great swimmer after cancer. I realized there are much bigger things in life than competing. When I came back after treatment I just relaxed and had fun. A happy athlete is a better athlete.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
Eric Shanteau: I shred a plain wheat biscuit, put that in a bowl, crush it up, dump some Grape-Nuts on it, and usually the third cereal is some kind of vanilla almond nut cluster kind of thing. Those are the three cereals that go in it, then I put a handful of raisins, a big spoonful of ground flaxmeal, a handful of walnuts, raspberries, kiwis—cut up a kiwi with the skin on it—put a splash of almond milk on there, then put some type of organic yogurt on top of that. It’s a pretty heavy, pretty big bowl…the dietitians I’ve talked to are like, “I can’t believe you can digest that.” But it doesn’t hurt my stomach; it’s so complex with so many elements that it kind of just sits in my stomach like a ball of energy, which is great.
What’s the best nutrition advice you’ve ever received?
Eric Shanteau: In terms of being a swimmer, recovery is so important and getting that fuel in my body 30 minutes after working out helps so much more with the next workout and the next and the next. I think that not only getting food in me, but getting the right food in me after a workout, has really changed my training.
So what are some things that you cook really well now?
Eric Shanteau: I really enjoy some of the pastas that I make, and the different sauces—tomato sauce, or I think I make a really great alfredo sauce. I really enjoy seafood. I love shrimp, crab, lobster, a lot of different kinds of fish. Pretty much anything I can find and learn how to make I will be absolutely open to. I cook a lot of chicken, and I go as organic as I possibly can afford. I really try to go buy free-range or organic chicken. One thing that I got a couple months ago is a little stovetop smoker. I swear that thing is awesome.
Photo: Courtesy Arena