Former U.S. International Shane Ryan Qualifies for Irish Olympic Team

Former American National Teamer and international-level swimmer Shane Ryan has finalized his transition to full Irish sporting citizenship by becoming the second Irish swimmer to secure qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Ryan announced almost a year ago that he would be changing his sporting citizenship in an attempt to qualify for Rio under the Irish flag. That decision meant he had to sit out the 2015-2016 American collegiate season in the United States to move to and live in Ireland at the Swim Ireland NAC Performance Centre.

To qualify for the Olympic Games, Ryan’s task was to swim a FINA “A” Olympic Qualifying Standard time, which stands at 54.36 in his best event, the 100 backstroke.

The gamble paid off on Saturday at the 2016 Dave McCullagh/Swim Ulster International, where Ryan swam a 54.37 in prelims to just miss, and then a 53.93 in finals to dip well under, that qualifying standard.

“I got all the pieces of the puzzle together and it turned out great,” Ryan said of his swim. “I was in a good state of mind, I knew what I had to do, this morning it didn’t really feel too hot, I didn’t have a good start, a good turn or a good finish so .01, I knew I could do it, it was rough missing it but at the end of the day I got it! I need to have fun, I need to relax and that’s one thing I didn’t do in the past, I was always worried about getting the time instead of just swimming.”

16-year old Conor Ferguson very nearly followed Ryan to Rio, swimming a 54.66 to just miss a qualification swim himself.

Ryan’s lifetime best is a 53.84 that he swam at the 2013 U.S. National Championships, which qualified him to represent the United States at the bi-annual Duel in the Pool cross-Atlantic challenge.

Ryan is eligible to compete for Ireland, presuming he has lived in the country for 12 months before his first international representation, due to the fact that his father is Irish.

Ryan joins breaststroker Fiona Doyle as Irish swimmers qualified for the Olympic Games.

Full meet recap will be available at the meet’s conclusion.

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4 years ago

Congratulations, Mr. Ryan! I remember there were a LOT of people who voiced negative opinions about his decision to represent Ireland internationally. I’m very happy to know that he has achieved his goal of Olympic qualification, and I wish him the very best this summer.

4 years ago

If your event is the 100 back and you’re not at least among the top 5 in the US, you’re forgiven in my book. It’s the most competitive event. In the last couple weeks, there have been all these jokey (I think) articles about where people could move if Trump becomes prez. This one says if you have even just one great-grandparent who was from Ireland and moved to the USA you would qualify for citizenship. Now that the word is out, Ireland may be getting some more US backstrokers in years to come. But the easiest place to get citizenship is Svalbard, a territory of Norway that looks like the North Pole or the top of the Himalayas, in… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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