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ND Women’s Swimming: Freshman Ryan looks to carry talents to ND

Katherine Mack | Thursday, December 9, 2010

After a successful high school career, freshman Kelly Ryan is looking to have a big impact during her years here at Notre Dame.

A Hinsdale, Ill. native, Ryan was the top 100-yard backstroke swimmer in the state. She also propelled her Fenwick High School team to a third place finish overall at the State Championships.

Her impressive résumé before college also includes ties to the Olympics.

“My biggest accomplishment prior to college swimming was probably when I made my Olympic Trial cuts,” she said. “I think the most exciting part for me was the extremely talented swimmers that were present at the meet.”

Now swimming for the Irish in her first year, Ryan has had to make some adjustments, especially in terms of the tough training regime.

“College swimming is very different for me and more challenging mainly because we are doing so many things that I had never done before coming to Notre Dame,” she said. “At the beginning of the year I definitely struggled with all the running on dry land and starting to lift weights as well as doing more challenging sets in the pool.”

But Ryan is still excited for the chance to continue improving her training and to learn from her veteran teammates.

“I’m really excited about my training and improvements since I’ve been here,” she said. “It’s fun to have so many fast swimmers on the team that I can look up to and can push me to go faster in practices. The girls on the team have definitely helped me adjust to college swimming. They’re always able to give me advice and help.”

Ryan’s dedication to improving her performance in training has paid dividends for her during collegiate competition. Her numerous top-three finishes in various events over the last few months, including her first gold time on Nov. 12 against Utah in the 200-yard freestyle, has proved that she has quickly adjusted to the next level of her swimming career.

Ryan also swam at Nationals this past weekend, contributing nicely to help the Irish achieve third place overall out of 16 collegiate teams present at the meet.

Ryan said her goals are set high for her future here as a member of the Irish squad. This year, Ryan has her eyes on the prizes, namely her team winning their 15th consecutive Big East Championship and a trip to the NCAA

Championships for some of the Irish swimmers.

“One of my goals for this year is to swim fast enough to help the team achieve our 15th Big East Championship,” she said. “We have a really talented team and it would be awesome to have a big group of swimmers at the NCAAs.”

Personally, she said she hopes to make it to the NCAA Championships someday.

“In the next four years one of my goals is to make it to the NCAAs,” she said. “It would be so fun to be at that big of a meet in a relay or in an individual event.”

But in the end for Ryan, just being a member of the University of Notre Dame swimming and diving team is the ultimate prize.

“I love swimming for Notre Dame. It’s awesome to feel the school spirit and Notre Dame Pride at every swim meet and every practice when swimmers yell out ‘Let’s Go Irish!’ between sets. The girls on the team definitely make it more fun too. There’s always someone to help me out or push me in practice and there’s always someone to joke with.”