Record Smasher! Brienne Ryan Recounts Her Life as a Swimmer


Brienne Ryan, FCRH ’13, made history last week by breaking the A-10’s 200-backstroke record. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)

From a high school swimming star to college Atlantic 10 (A-10) champion as a freshman, Brienne Ryan, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH)’13, has had quite an exciting couple of years in her young swimming career. Arriving at Fordham University in the fall of 2009, Ryan started her collegiate career in style by helping the Rams women’s swimming team notch their first ever A-10 championship. Having achieved so much at such a young age, it’s funny to think that initially Ryan’s competitive swimming career started with some friendly sibling rivalry.

Ryan, who hails from New Windsor, NY, learned how to swim at the age of five. At the time there was nothing competitive about it, and Ryan’s parents just wanted her to learn a valuable skill. “My parents wanted me to know how to swim since we were at the beach all the time,” Ryan said.

Considered just a hobby at first, it wasn’t until Ryan’s older sister joined a local swim team that Ryan decided to swim competitively. “My mom told me that I actually got jealous of all the attention [my sister] was getting for being a swimmer,” Ryan said. “I told her I could do that as well, and I joined.”

And just like that, Ryan’s competitive swimming career began. For Ryan, swimming competitively was not only a fun activity but was also a good way to meet different kinds of people. “Swimming was new and exciting,” Ryan said. “I made so many of my best friends through swim teams.”

As Ryan developed into a leaner and faster swimmer, she eventually learned to love the competitiveness of the sport. “The competition part was fun later on when I started getting better at swimming,” Ryan said. “I became more interested in qualifying for faster meets.”

Attending Cornwall High School in upstate New York, Ryan was a varsity swimmer and the captain of her high school team. During her time there, she made a name for herself by breaking 11 school records (eight individual and three relays). “It’s cool going back to my high school and seeing my name on the school board,” Ryan said. “It reminds me of the great years I had there.”

Ryan made the decision to join the Rams two years ago because she felt the school would help her improve her competitive swimming. “I felt that [Fordham] would be a good place for me. I had heard good things about the team and the coaches,” Ryan said. In addition, Ryan’s coach was an alumnus of Fordham.

Quickly making an early impact for the Rams, Ryan was named A-10 rookie of the week a conference record six times in the 2009-10 season. Ryan was a key part of the Rams’ first ever A-10 swimming championship, as she finished second in the 200-backstroke race. Winning the A-10 championship as a freshman was a memorable moment for Ryan “I couldn’t have asked for a better first season,” Ryan said. “It was definitely the most exciting and exhausting experience, but it was nice to be part of a team where everyone really wanted to do well and pushed each other to do better.”

This season, Ryan and the Rams were consistent as usual, ending the season with an impressive record of 7-1. Qualifying for the season ending A-10 championships in Buffalo, NY, Ryan swam well, breaking the A-10’s 200-backstroke record with a time of 1:56:11 (the previous time was 1:57:93). Shortly after breaking the A-10 record ,Ryan was entered into the “A” final of the 200-backstroke where she won the gold for the Rams.

In the end, Ryan and the Rams couldn’t produce the success of last season as they came in second place at the championships, ceding their A-10 crown to Richmond. Despite coming in second place, Ryan believes there were many positives during the season. “Although we didn’t win the conference meet, we had a great record for the duel meets this season,” Ryan said. “There were some amazing swims throughout the entire season.”

Looking ahead, Ryan believes next season will be very interesting. “We are losing a pretty big senior class and it will definitely be hard to fill their place,” Ryan said. “I hear we have a strong freshman class coming in so it will be pretty exciting to see how next season goes.”