5 Fun Facts About First-Time Olympian Ryan Held

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

By Cristian Corbett with Kayla Brumbaum, Swimming World College Interns

American sprinter Ryan Held will make his international debut at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in the 4×100 freestyle relay. Held secured his relay spot after finishing third in the 100m freestyle at the Olympic Trials in Omaha last month. Held missed an individual spot on the Olympic Team by .03 seconds with an incredible 48.26.

Born in 1995, it definitely looks like Held is just getting started. Here are some things you might not know about first-time Olympian Ryan Held:

1. He’s from Springfield, Illinois, where there’s an annual Ryan Held Day.


Photo Courtesy: Justin Fowley / The State Journal-Register

Held swam for Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Illinois and was crowned the Central State Eight Swimmer of the Year for four consecutive years. While at SHG, Held broke 9 SHG school records broke two Illinois state records as well. He was named the No. 2 incoming freshman in the state of Illinois, and 30th overall. Ryan actually has a day named after him in Springfield. Ryan Held Day takes place on March 18 every year. In 2014, the mayor of Springfield, J. Michael Houston, proclaimed that March 18 would honor Ryan Held and his aquatic and academic accomplishments.

2. He’s a member of the NC State Wolfpack.


Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold / Aringo Photos

North Carolina State swimming has recently made a name for themselves as one of the top sprinting schools in the NCAA. “Everything at NC State was perfect– the coaches, the guys, the rise of the team, academics, the weight room, team spirit, all made me want to be part of the Wolfpack,” Ryan said after committing. Held just completed his sophomore year with the Wolfpack, and finished fourth in the 100-yard freestyle at this year’s D1 NCAA Championships. Ryan was also a part of NC State’s first-ever NCAA title-winning relay. This was a monumental moment, for not only him, but the entire NC State swim team. The team also placed 4th as a whole which is the highest in the program’s history.

3. He’s REALLY fast. And is progressing at an alarming rate.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

While at SHG, Ryan held broke two state records his senior year. He swam a crazy 19.76 in the 50 free, breaking the previous record by .04, and became the first swimmer in Illinois to break 44 seconds in the 100 free in 43.73. While at NC State, Ryan took 5th at the ACC Championships in the 50 free with  19.27, and dropped over a second from his IHSA record in the 100 free, going a 42.45 at the NCAA D1 Championships. And that was just his freshman year. Held won both the 50 and the 100 free at this year’s ACCs, going 18.92 and 41.69.  Not only are his individual times fast, but he’s had superhuman relay splits in his collegiate career. This should be a big help to Team USA in Rio.

4. He is the future of American sprinting.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Held was born in 1995, making him one of the youngest swimmers on this year’s Olympic team along with Townley Haas, Jay Litherland and fellow sprinter Caeleb Dressel. At the Olympic Trials, both Dressel and Held finished second and third, losing only to veteran Nathan Adrian. Both swimmers are very young and may hold the keys to winning gold in 2020.

5. He loves cats.


Photo Courtesy: RageOn / Ryan’s Twitter page

Ryan absolutely is obsessed with cats. His room is full of cat posters and paintings and he has a cat towel he uses on a daily basis. Ryan likes to post videos of cats on his personal Twitter account. But there is an unfortunate twist to his cat obsession– he is highly allergic to felines so he can never own one!

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Kristie Wisniewski
6 years ago

Good luck in Rio!!! Relays at the Olympics are so exciting.

6 years ago

ha, ha 2015-2016 second fastest swimmer in the NCS, but he from USA.

Pamela S Palme
6 years ago

Go Ryan we are cheering you on in Rio. Good luck 🙂

Linda Smith
6 years ago

I had Ryan as a student at SHG. He is humble, a blessing to those around him and a fine example of what hard work, dedication and commitment can do. And an added bonus: He never a takes himself too seriously. What a gem !

Linda Pfeiffer
6 years ago

Good luck ryan,, he was one of my,employees at the y when he was in high School very proud of him 🙂

Jan Thomas
6 years ago

We are rooting for you, Ryan! Way to go! Make us all proud of you!

Bob, Joyce and Kristyn
6 years ago

Very proud of your accomplishments, Ryan! So happy to see your hard work paying off. ?