Fordham Alum Rows His Way to the Pan American Games

Fordham Alum Rows His Way to the Pan American Games


Ryan Kirlin, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’09,  joined the handful of Fordham athletes to go national, by rowing for the United States in the Pan American Games this October.

Described as “extremely focused and a very hard worker” by Ted Bonanno, coach of the Fordham crew team, Kirlin trained diligently to make himself into the athlete he is today.

Kirlin began rowing during high school in Philadelphia. “Rowing is a pretty big sport in Philly, so that’s why I got involved,” Kirlin said. His skill in the sport led him to the Fordham crew team where he made his presence known as a dedicated athlete.

While attending Fordham, Kirlin helped lead the team to two undefeated seasons, two Dad Vail Championships and a second place finish in the ergometer at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston. As a senior, Kirlin served as team captain, bringing him a step closer to becoming a national athlete.

In the fall of his senior year at Fordham, Kirlin found himself competing in what he calls “one of the biggest races in the fall,” The Head of the Charles. The results of the race didn’t sit well with Kirlin and his team, as they placed third.  He decided to join the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) to  get the elusive gold medal in the Head of the Charles the following year. However,  the results of the race weren’t any different from the previous year, as Kirlin and his team from the NYAC placed third once again.

Kirlin took his third place finish as a catalyst to begin training, in hopes of joining the U.S. national team as a rower. Kirlin joined the national team and went to trials for the Pan American Games. In the trials, Kirlin and his team placed first, qualifying for the games.

The Pan American Games, also known as the Pan Am Games, is the second largest multi-sport event in the world, the largest being the Summer Olympics. This year the games were held in Guadalajara, Mexico, and took place Oct. 14-30. Fourty-two nations competed with over 6,000 athletes in total. The Pan Am Games have the same objective as the Olympics: nations go head to head competing for gold with their top athletes.

In their opening heat, Kirlin’s team ranked fourth out of five crews with a time of 6:33.93 and did not advance to the next round. Kirlin then competed in the Repechage race, known as the “A” race, where only the top two crews qualify to move on. Kirlin and his crew started the race well, but faded after their hot start.  “We held our position at second, but were passed by Brazil around the half-way point,” Kirlin said.

Rowing in the lightweight men’s four, Kirlin and his crew from the NYAC finished third in their heat, ultimately missing a spot in the finals. “In the B finals we did pretty well, having the best time at 6:27.79,” Kirlin said. “I’m grateful for my time spent in Pan Am and for the experience.”

While Kirlin trains continually, he also keeps a nine to five, or as he calls it “an eight to six job.” Between his training Kirlin has a day job at the New York Stock Exchange at Euronext. When asked about his training routine Kirlin replied, “I wake up at 4:20 a.m., and I’m on the water at least by 5:15 a.m. to get a two-hour run in.” Kirlin will keep up his routine for the next three years, as he aspires to compete in the next Pan American Games and bring home a gold medal.

Ryan Kirlin, a dedicated athlete and a hard worker, thanked Bonanno for “everything he has taught me.” Kirlin offered advice for aspiring national athletes at Fordham saying, “Go as fast as you can at the highest level, all the time.”