Ryan finishes 16th in 100M backstroke in Rio

August 07, 2016

RIO DE JANERIO -- Representing Ireland, Shane Ryan posted the highest Olympic finish by a Penn State men's swimmer, completing a historic day for both Penn State and Ireland Sunday with a 16th-place finish in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.

Ryan's day began early in the afternoon when he advanced to the semifinals of the 100-meter backstroke, placing 14th overall in the preliminaries in an Irish record time of 53.85 seconds. Although he was unable to advance to the finals and duplicate his earlier performance in the evening, slipping to 16th with a time of 54.40, the finish was still the best by a Penn State men's swimmer at the Olympic games.

Ryan is slated to compete in two more events in Rio, resuming with the 100m freestyle Tuesday at 12:08 p.m. ET and the 50m freestyle Thursday at 12:12 p.m. ET. Times are subject to change.

Ryan's mere participation is historic for the Penn State swimming program as he became the second from the men's side to compete in the Olympics and the first since Eugene Botes competed for South Africa in the 2004 games in Athens. He also will be the first in program history to return to Penn State after competing in the Olympics.

With his inaugural Olympic performance Sunday, Ryan was the first Lion men's swimmer to advance out of the preliminaries and the highest finishing in program history. Ryan shined in his preliminary race, competing in the third of five heats. Ryan was leading through the first 75 meters but China's Xu Jiayu (53.01), the United States' Ryan Murphy (53.06) and Russia's Evgeny Rylov (53.25) were able to pull past down the stretch to place Ryan fourth in the race. Ryan's time was one hundredth of a second shy of his personal best of 53.84 set at the 2013 U.S. Nationals.

Ryan was also the first Irish swimmer to advance to the semifinals at the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing games.

Ryan is competing for his father's native country of Ireland. Ryan holds dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland and postponed his senior season at Penn State this past academic year to train and establish residency in Ireland in order to compete for the nation. He holds Penn State's 100-yard backstroke and 50 and 100 freestyle records and is a three-time All-American at the NCAA championships, earning silver in the 100 back in 2014 and bronze in 2015. Ryan was also the 2014 Big Ten Championships Swimmer of the Meet after claiming two titles. He plans to return to Happy Valley for his senior season after the Olympics.

Last Updated August 12, 2016