Meet the 2016 USA Olympic Swim Team: Ryan Held

Meet first-time Olympian Ryan Held.  The NC State Wolfpack have been on a tear over the past three years, with Held as one of the driving forces.  After a big swim in the B-final at the 2015 Summer Nationals, Held jumped on the radar as a threat in Omaha.  He made the next leap during the 2016 collegiate season, and backed it up with a third place finish in the 100 freestyle at Olympic Trials

In his “Meet the Team” interview, Held talks about the racing culture of his the NC State team, how he got into the sport, and his “no name” status among the common swim fan leading into 2016 Trials.

Ryan Held is a sprint freestyle and butterfly specialist from Springfield, Illinois. He qualified for his first Olympic Games at the 2016 U.S Olympic Trials in a close fought 100 yard freestyle.

Held attended Sacred Heart-Griffin High School where he was a multiple time state champion and record breaker. In his senior year in 2014 he was named Illinois State Swimmer of the Year.

North Carolina State University

Held took his sprinting talents to North Carolina State University where he joined a team of successful sprinters.


As a freshman, Held was a big part of the wolf packs relay success. He was a member of the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays that took the ACC championship titles. At the NCAA Championships he was a member of the 400 and 800 yard freestyle relays that placed 2nd to earn All-American honors. He was also named a second team All-American in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle.


At the 2016 NCAA championships Held helped NC State to its first ever relay national title. The Wolfpack won the 400 yard freestyle relay and added silvers in the 200 and 800 relays. In his individual events, Held finished 4th in the 100 yard freestyle, 7th in the 50 and 9th in the 200.

International Career

Held earned his first international call up at the 2016 Olympic Games in the 400 yard freestyle relay, narrowly missing out on the individual spot. In a close fought finish at the Trials, Held was coming back on Florida’s Caleb Dressel but the touch didn’t go his way. Held finished 3 hundredths of a second behind second place. His third place finish was enough to earn him a spot on the relay in Rio.

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4 years ago

Loved that subtle stab at Rowdy….He really does need to work on his commentating skills tho.

Attila the Hunt
Reply to  Roberto123
4 years ago

“He really does need to work on his commentating skills tho”

Understatement of the year.

Reply to  Attila the Hunt
4 years ago

Trust me, i was putting it as nicely as I could.

4 years ago

Rodney Dangerfield, no respect..

Reply to  coacherik
4 years ago

“When Ryan Held was a kid he got no respect. The time he was kidnapped, and the kidnappers sent his parents a note they said, ‘We want five thousand dollars or you’ll see your kid again.’ “

Reply to  Sven
4 years ago

Weirdest comment ever.

Reply to  Swimmer
4 years ago

It’s a Rodney Dangerfield line….

4 years ago

GO GET THEM RYAN HELD! We are cheering for you! GO USA!

NC State (Todd DeSorbo) has done a great job in developing this young man!

Question – Is DeSorbo the only coach working with the sprint crew in Raleigh??

Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

Along with Bobby Guntoro!

Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

DeSorbo heads the sprint group while Bobby Guntoro works with the stroke sprinters in a sprint sub-group. Held mainly works with DeSorbo.

Reply to  Wolfpack
4 years ago

Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense cause Guntoro swam for DeSorbo at UNCW.

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Morgan Priestley

A Stanford University and Birmingham, Michigan native, Morgan Priestley started writing for SwimSwam in February 2013 on a whim, and is loving that his tendency to follow and over-analyze swim results can finally be put to good use. Morgan swam competitively for 15+ years, primarily excelling in the mid-distance freestyles. While …

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