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.