Off Historic ACCs, Virginia Tech’s Youssef Ramadan Ready for First NCAAs

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Youssef Ramadan Photo Courtesy: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics

Off Historic ACCs, Virginia Tech’s Youssef Ramadan Ready for First NCAAs

When Youssef Ramadan saw the time on the scoreboard at the ACC Championships – 44.32 seconds in the men’s 100 butterfly – no one was as shocked as him.

The Virginia Tech freshman was in the midst of a strong meet, yes, and the Hokies were swimming great as a team. But to put down one of the five fastest times in history and the fastest in NCAA history for a freshman, a time that wouldn’t just win the conference title but stand as the top seed in the NCAA in 2020-21, that was something else entirely.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Ramadan told Swimming World last week. “But in my head, I just, first 50, I went for it without really thinking and that’s what the coach told me. I was in the next lane to (Louisville’s Nick) Albiero, who is one of the fastest swimmers in the country and he comes back so fast, so (coach Sergio Lopez Miro) told me, we emphasized the first 50 and I just went for it and I held on and I was able to get that time, which I obviously didn’t expect at all. I was very shocked but I was very happy.”

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Youssef Ramadan; Photo Courtesy: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics

The 100 fly was the capstone on a stellar meet for the native of Cairo, Egypt. And he’s hoping it’s a harbinger of things to come at the NCAA Men’s Division I Championships this week.

Ramadan will be in the medal picture in three events. He’s the top seed in the 100 fly and ranked 13th and 14th in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, respectively. Add in a crowded slate for the Hokies’ relays, and Ramadan will be one of the busier swimmers at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

That prolific program is one of the things Ramadan had to adjust to at ACCs, which he called one of the harder swimming experiences of his life. With Virginia Tech briefly leading the competition on the way to a stellar third place, pressure came with each swim. Ultimately, Ramadan handled it beautifully.

“It was my first time being in a team and each race was like, I had to win for me and for my team,” he said. “I had to go fast for me and for my team, so that was also new for me.”

Already, Ramadan is looking like the latest recruiting masterstroke by Lopez, who has an amazing ability to find and coach up international talents that fly under others’ recruiting radars. The connection to Lopez is part of what drew Ramadan to Blacksburg.

“Their approach when they were in talks with me was unlike any other school,” Ramadan said. “I felt that the head coach Sergio, if I came here, he would put his attention on me. He would not only care about me swimming here, but he would also care about my health and my life and other things like that. He didn’t look me as only as a swimmer on the team.”

Part of Ramadan’s move to the U.S. is to prep for a run at the Tokyo Olympics. He plans to transition straight from NCAAs into long-course prep, with Pro Swim Series stops on his radar.

On the international front, he is able to enjoy swimming against someone he calls “an older sibling” at ACCs, Louisville swimmer Abdelrahman Sameh. The sophomore will also be at NCAAs, seeded 11th in the 50, 22nd in the 100 fly and eighth in the 100 free, and he and Ramadan will surely tangle in the relays, as the did in a pitched battle at ACCs that led to the Cardinals winning the league title.

Once NCAAs ends, the Egyptian duo will relish being back on the same team.

“I enjoyed racing when he is with me,” Youssef Ramadan said. “At the same time, I also want him to do the fastest time he can do and I would prefer that he wins events like me and does well, because he is making me proud and he and I will make Egypt proud.”