ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The Olympic trials for swimming start next week, but former University of Michigan standout Sean Ryan won’t be stressing about them — he already clinched his spot on Team USA.
In fact, he will have been an Olympian for more than year before he actually competes in the Rio games. He qualified in July 2015 when he finished fourth in the open water 10K at the FINA World Championships.
“A year is a really long time to go without having an intermediate goal along the way,” Ryan said.
You would think an open water swimmer would train in a year-round warm weather climate, but Ryan couldn’t pull himself away from Michigan.
“Because we have the best swimming training facilities and coaching staff, in my opinion, in the country,” he explained. “I don’t think there is anywhere else I would rather be.”
While at Michigan, Ryan led the Wolverines to four Big Ten championships and the 2013 NCAA championship. Before that, he started open-water swimming while in high school. That early experience has helped a lot, he said.
“It’s totally different. It takes a bit of time to get to where you can excel at it, and get comfortable when you are swimming with two guys right beside each shoulder and sort of impinging on your stroke,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to swim the same you do in the pool as you do in open water.”
Competing in open water presents another challenge, especially in Rio, where water quality is a major concern.
“We’re swimming on Copacabana Beach. We’re swimming on open ocean, so it doesn’t look like our water quality is that bad. It should be OK. Should it be an issue, they’ll protect the athletes just in case,” Ryan said. “There are some preventative measures that we’re taking and the doctors with USA swimming and the US Olympic Committee have come up with strategies. Overall, I’m not worrying about that because it’s not something I can control. I’m trying to think about the things I can control, like my training, so I can be in the best possible place for the race, not worrying about the exterior.”
The Olympic trials for swimming are begin Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska. The games in Rio begin Aug. 5.—Online: 2016 Olympic Games in Rio