Haverford High School's Shane Ryan Digs for Gold

Our Best High School Athlete and 2012 Olympics hopeful comes up for air to answer a few questions.

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Haverford High School swimming phenom Shane Ryan. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)When Haverford High School senior Shane Ryan touched the wall at the finish of the 50-yard freestyle at the PIAA state championships in March, the clock read 19.97, making him the third high school student in American history to break the 20-second barrier. He later swam a 19.91 in the event, leaving with a pair of titles. This summer, Ryan is headed to the Olympic Trials. Then, it’s on to Penn State, where he’ll finally get serious about swimming. Really.

MLT: Have you always been one of those swimming kids with a perpetual wet head and a box of Jell-O powder in his hand?
SR: Mostly, it was a summer swimming kind of thing. I didn’t really start seriously until my sophomore year.

MLT: What did you do athletically before committing to swimming?
SR: I played a lot of different sports, like soccer and Gaelic football. My dad [Tom] was on the Irish national [Gaelic football] team. That’s how he came over here. I played volleyball. I tried the javelin this spring, but my shoulder hurt too much from swimming for me to throw.

MLT: What got you to become a full-time swimmer?
SR: I got mono my junior year.

MLT: Huh?
SR: I was swimming about three times a week as a sophomore, not really caring, and I didn’t do as well at states as I wanted to. I tried to do a little better the next year, but I got mono and missed a month. When I went to the Central League [championship] meet, I didn’t think I would do too well, but I won two individual titles. I thought, ‘OK, it’s time to get serious.’ So, I guess everybody who wants to do well in swimming should get mono. [Laughs]

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