America's gold-medal chasing swimmers say team-mate Eric Shanteau's battle with cancer has inspired them and made them realise there is more to life than the Olympic Games.
Shanteau, 24, who is competing at the Beijing Olympics in the 200-metre breaststroke, has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and is delaying surgery until after he returns home from the Games.
The first-time Olympian shocked his team-mates when he kept his diagnosis private until after last month's trials in Omaha.
But his positive attitude has inspired his team in the countdown to the swimming competition, starting in Beijing on Saturday.
"Having lost my grandmother to cancer it's not an easy battle and I know his goal was to swim at the Olympic Games and he's doing that," superstar Michael Phelps said on Wednesday.
"He's positive and he's excited to be here and we're all supporting each other in everything we do, and he seems like just a normal guy."
Champion backstroker Aaron Peirsol said Shanteau has been inspiring in dealing with his health problems. "Eric has been quite inspiring in many ways. The way he's handled this has put all this into perspective for all of us. We've taken a step back and realised there is more to it than just swimming."
Captain Brendan Hansen summed it up. "He gives you a sense of the bigger picture. The Olympics look a lot smaller when you're dealing with something like cancer."
Shanteau took questions about his cancer fight with a forthrightness and candour at the American team's press conference on Wednesday.
"It's been pretty easy to keep focused. A lot of times when we get to an event like this you put a lot of pressure on yourself," Shanteau said.
"I've probably got an 'out' with cancer. That puts things into perspective for me. There's a lot more to life than just the Olympic Games."