Different Strokes

A US national team swimmer is set to represent Ireland at the Olympics

Shane Ryan is changing his sporting citizenship.

SWIMMER SHANE RYAN, a former member of the US national team, is moving to these shores next month with a view to representing Ireland at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

A scholarship student at Penn State University, Ryan’s father hails from Portarlington. In order to obtain eligibility to represent Ireland, the 21-year-old must reside here for a continuous 12-month period.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to train with the Ireland national team and work towards possibly representing them in the Olympics,” Ryan announced via his Facebook page. “It was a tough decision for me but I’ve decided that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

“I’m moving to Ireland in May and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve had such a great time here at PSU the last three years and I’m going to miss everyone. But I will be back in 2016 to swim for Penn State and to finish my senior year and graduate.”

Ryan, who last represented Team USA in December 2013, will be confident of performing well enough to qualify for the Irish Olympic team.

His best time in the 100 long course backstroke is 53.84, faster than the Irish record of 54.44, set by Karl Burdis. Ryan is also an impressive 100 freestyler, with a 49.27 time on his ledger — slightly faster than Ryan Harrison’s Irish mark of 49.49.

“At present, Shane is ranked in the top-eight in the USA in the 100m backstroke, and with only the top-two per event qualifying for the Olympics, Shane made the decision to change his sporting nationality to Ireland,” Swim Ireland’s High Performance Director Peter Banks told The42.

“Following discussions with Shane and his coach over the past few months, we can confirm that Shane will commence his residency here on 13 May. I’m excited to work with Shane and I know he is excited to pursue his Olympic dream under the Irish flag.”

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