Shane Ryan

Shane Ryan: Freestyle/Backstroke

Personal and Youth Swimming:

Shane Patrick Ryan was born January 27, 1994 in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania to parents Thomas and Mary Beth Ryan. Ryan has two siblings, a brother Brendan and a sister Tara. Growing up, Ryan swam for Radnor Athletic Club under coach Mike Robinson. Ryan also swam for his high school, Haverford Senior High School under head coach Matt Stewart. Haverford High School was also the high school to Breaststroke super star Brendan Hansen over ten yeas ago. During his four years at Haverford, Ryan was a 16-time All-American and 11-time All-State honoree. He was named the 2010 and 2011 Central League and DelCo Swimmer of the Year. He set the District 1 and State record in the 100-yard backstroke in 2010. His time was the sixth fastest time in high school history. Ryan was also a high school letterwinner in golf, football, and volleyball at Haverford.

College Swimming: 

Ryan decided to attend Penn State University to swim under former head coach John Hargis and earn his bachelor’s degree in sports nutrition.

After a complicated freshman year, Ryan had an outstanding sophomore 2013-2014 season. Swimming under head coach Tim Murphy at PSU, Ryan earned Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships after his second place 50-yard freestyle (19.36), first place in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:17.93-split 19.53), first place 100-yard backstroke (45.13), first place 100-yard freestyle (42.08-BIG Record), and second place 400-yard freestyle relay (2:51.32-split 42.53). Ryan’s phenomenal Big Ten meet qualified him for the NCAA Championships. He finished second in the 100-yard backstroke with a final time of 44.78, just missing Cal freshman Ryan Murphy. Ryan was successful both in and out of the pool receiving CSCAA All-American academic honors.

National and International Swimming:

Ryan has dual Irish and American citizenship, although he now races for the US.

Ryan was a member of the 2010-2011 US National Junior Team and the 2011-2012 US National Junior Team. Both times, Ryan was named to the team for his performances in the 100-meter backstroke.

In 2012, Ryan qualified to compete at the 2012 US Olympic Trials held in Omaha, Nebraska. Ryan made his Trials cut in the 100-meter backstroke, where he finished 28th with a time of 56.27.

A year later, Ryan competed at the 2013 World Championship Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ryan raced the 50-meter backstroke and finished fifth with a 25.04. He also swam the 100-meter backstroke where he earned himself fourth place with a final time of 53.84. In addition to the sprint backstrokes, Ryan qualified to compete in the 100-meter freestyle where he finished 22nd with a time of 50.25.

Ryan’s earned himself a spot on the 2013-2014 US National Team as a 100-meter backstroker. December 2013, Ryan competed for the US at the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool in Glasgow, Scotland. He finished fourth in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 51.01. Ryan swam the 50 and 100-meter freestyles as well.

At the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships, Ryan continued to have success with performances such as his third place 50-meter backstroke (24.97), ninth place 100-meter backstroke (53.90),  and 12th place 100-meter freestyle (49.59).

Shane Ryan moves to Ireland to attempt to qualify and represent them at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Shane Ryan made the announcement via his Facebook page:

I’ve been given the opportunity to train with the Ireland national team and work towards possibly representing them in the Olympics . It was a tough decision for me but I’ve decided that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I’m moving to Ireland in May and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve had such a great time here at PSU the last 3 years and I’m going to miss everyone. But I will be back in 2016, to swim for Penn State and to finish my senior year and graduate. If your ever in Ireland give me a call!

Because Ryan’s father, Thomas, is Irish, he is eligible to change his sporting citizenship to that country’s, though it will mean living in the country for 6 months and taking a year-long break since the last time he represented the United States internationally. While simply being on the National Team doesn’t lock Ryan into American sporting citizenship, representing the country at the 2013 Duel in the Pool does, which triggers the mandatory residence and wait periods before he can officially compete for Ireland.

With a good year of competition, Ryan should be able to qualify for the Irish Olympic Team. He was 2nd in 2014 at the NCAA Championships in the 100 back as a sophomore (44.78) and was 3rd as a junior (45.24).

Ryan’s immediate contribution will be in the 100 backstroke, where his best time in long course meters of 53.84 is already faster than the 54.44 Irish Record in that event done by Karl Burdis in 2009. He’ll have to repeat the feat, likely at next year’s Irish Olympic Trials, for that record to count officially.

He’s also faster than the Irish Records in the 100 LCM free (49.27), the 100 SCM free (48.14), and the 100 SCM backstroke (51.01). Ireland is unlikely to qualify any relays for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but Ryan could conceivably compete for the country at the 2016 European Aquatics Championships in London.

Ryan’s comments indicate that he intends to return to the Penn State program to complete his eligibility in the 2016-2017 season.


Ryan swam under the Olympic Qualifying time in the 100 backstroke at the Swim Ulster Dave McCullagh Meet in March, 2016, and will therefore represent Ireland in Rio.

2018 European Championships

Shane won his first major international medal for Ireland at the 2018 Euros, placing 3rd in the 50 backstroke. He also competed in the 100 backstroke, where he finished 15th overall.

2018 Short Course World Championships

Ryan continued to make Irish history in Hangzhou, as he became the first Irish man under 23 seconds (SCM) in the 50 back. In the final of the 50 back he went 22.76 to win bronze, marking Ireland’s first ever medal at a senior world championships meet. He was also part of the 4×50 medley relay that set an Irish national record and placed 11th overall, and set another national record in the 100 free, swimming 46.97 to place 12th overall.

-Originally developed by Elle Meinholz

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Bronze 50 Back 2018 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 50 Back 2018 European Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
scy 50 Free 19.36 02/26/14 2014 Big 10 Championships
Ann Arbor, Michigan
scy 100 Free 42.08 02/26/14 2014 Big 10 Championships
Ann Arbor, Michigan
scy 100 Back 44.78 03/27/14 2014 NCAA D1 Championships
Austin, Texas
lcm 100 Free 49.27 08/06/14 2014 USA Swimming Nationals
Irvine, California
lcm 50 Back 24.64 08/04/18 2018 European Championships
Glasgow, Scotland
lcm 100 Back 53.84 06/25/13 2013 USA Swimming Nationals
Indianapolis, Indiana
scm 50 Back 22.76 12/14/18 2018 Short Course World Championships
Hangzhou, China
Shane Ryan, NLAC, 2014 (photo: Mike Lewis, Ola Vista Photography) (photo: Mike Lewis, Ola Vista Photography) This year's USMS short course championships were a blast. This is a shot of the woman entering the water for the 100 backstroke. (photo: Mike Lewis, Ola Vista Photography)