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Brie Ryan Gears Up For Olympic Trials

by Nolan Silbernagel
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Fordham Swimmer Gets Ready for OT's

It can be debated that swimming is one of the hardest sports for an individual to make a living off of. Most elite and well-known swimmers are usually amateurs that train with their college teams or are in their mid-to-late twenties that pay their bills with endorsement deals and train with various club teams. There are no professional swim leagues (although the “New York Barracudas” sounds catchy) that swimmers can hope to become apart of in comparison to how young athletes of other sports can shoot for the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL. It is quite simple in the world of swimming: make the Olympics, or your career will soon end.

To put it in perspective, there are 25 players on a single professional baseball team and thirty teams in Major League Baseball. That means there are 750 players that have “made it to the show” and have reached the highest level of play. This is not including the countless professional Minor League teams that exist for America’s pastime as well. While there are 750 Major League baseball players every year, there are only 52 (26 male, 26 female) swimmers who get to reach the Olympics every four years.

Those odds have not deterred Fordham’s rising senior Brie Ryan, however, who will be competing in the 2012 U.S Olympic Swim Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska from June 25th-July 2nd. Ryan has been competing in this sport since she was at the young age of five. Ryan’s mother signed up her older sister, Cori, for swim lessons and, as many younger siblings can relate to, she was dragged to the practices and forced to wait during the duration of the boring training sessions. It was here that Ryan realized she could handle the swim workouts she was dragged to watch, and asked her mother to sign her up as well.

“I have never been forced to go to practice, and my parents always allowed me to do other sports,” Ryan reflected. “That’s what really kept me into it because it was something I wanted to do”.

The rest is, as the old saying goes, history. Ryan has now established herself as one of the best swimmer’s in Fordham history and one of the top performers in not only the Atlantic Ten Conference, but in the entire nation as well. The 5’7” backstroker from New Windsor, NY had experienced success during her freshman and sophomore campaigns, but truly broke out onto the national stage this past season, as she not only established school records in the 50 (23.18) and 100 (50.62) yard freestyles and 100 yard backstroke (52.88), but also placed 17th at the NCAA DIV I Swimming Championships held at Auburn University in the 200 yard backstroke (1:54.67).

Even though Ryan qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 100 meter backstroke last summer, the idea of competing on the nation’s biggest stage has still not set in.

“It’s surreal to think that I’ll be at a meet with the fastest people in the country” she stated.

Ironically, Ryan is one of those “fastest people in the country” that she referred to. As of June 12th, Ryan ranks 13th in the nation in the 100 meter backstroke (1:01.54) and 64th in the 200 meter backstroke (2:16.07).

Quite possibly the most intriguing aspect of Ryan’s run to the Olympic Trials is that she is not from a major Division I swimming powerhouse school such as California, Georgia, or Florida. It is extremely rare for a smaller school such as Fordham to have a nationally ranked swimmer in their program. In this case, it seems that location, reputation, and family were able to outweigh the benefits of going to a large school in the SEC or Pac-12 conferences.

“I’m pretty close with my family and Fordham is only an hour away from home. My parents come to every meet and I knew being far away they wouldn’t have been able to,” Ryan remarked. “Also, one of my coaches from home, Carol Colton, went to Fordham. Two of her kids swam here as well. I really liked what they had to say about the school and the team here”.

The pressure of competing against the top athletes in the nation could certainly be a lot for a young athlete. Add into the equation that Ryan is expected to make it back to Finals at night and possibly be on national television will make any exam or paper she encounters next semester seem like a joke. So how has the 21 year old dealt with the pressure?

“Everyone has been so supportive. Since I made the first trial cut, the whole [Fordham Swim] team, all my friends and family, even old coaches and teachers have been cheering me on. A few weeks ago I made my second trial cut at a meet in Charlotte, North Carolina and again everyone was texting and calling to congratulate me. It’s awesome to know how many people are interested in how I’m doing and it helps get me through all the practices.

What does Ryan want to do at Olympic Trials? Make the Olympics and travel to England? Win Gold in London? Surpass Michael Phelps’ net worth of $40 million? It is actually a lot simpler than that.

“It’s incredible to even qualify for this meet… I really can’t ask for much more than that, but it would be awesome to make it back to the first round of finals and set a new personal best record”.

That certainly seems like something the Fordham swimmer can accomplish.

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