Ryan Baker is a name anyone who has been around the Flying Fish for the past 15 years should recognize. Since joining the swim team in 2004, Ryan has been at the center of Overlee’s competitive success, where he picked up team records by the bunches as he progressed through each age group. As one of the most finely tuned, year round swimmers, Ryan was a show stopper–when he was in the pool, it was always worth watching, and all too often he would shock the onlooking crowd, as he dropped incredible relay splits, and edged out competitors in individual races. With Ryan’s dominating swimming, Overlee won seven Division 1 championships!
After an incredible youth career swimming for Overlee, Arlington Aquatic Club, and Gonzaga College High School, Ryan moved to Charlottesville to attend the University of Virginia, where he has just completed his first year of academics and swimming. Though beset by mono in the middle of his season, causing him to miss a few critical dual meets, Ryan was able to battle through the illness to make the ACC team, and score points for the Cavaliers at the conference championship meet. However, the UVA team is currently in a rebuilding phase with incredible upside, as they deal with the loss of only three upperclassmen from last year’s program. Despite getting 6th place at ACC’s, and not contending at the NCAA Championship meet, Ryan will be the first to tell you that this team is worth watching over the next few years.
This week, Ryan is in Indianapolis with his Cavalier Aquatics teammates, competing at the Phillips 66 World Games Qualifiers (also known as ‘Senior Nationals’). With five events, Ryan has the second most qualifying times of anyone on his team–second only to Olympic Gold medalist Leah Smith–he will be swimming the 50 and 100 meter freestyle, and the 50, 100, and 200 meter backstroke. When asked about how he matches up with his competition, Ryan admits that this is an incredibly deep field of competition, and making it back to finals in any event will be an uphill challenge; however, he likes how his 50 freestyle has been feeling, and would say he has an outside shot to make it back in that event. After swimming the 100 free today, he feels good and is looking forward to a solid week of racing (see video below–he is in lane 3 wearing the white cap and black suit second from the top).
Other than a few meets he will get a chance to race at this summer, Ryan will be doing a number of open water races, and hopes to qualify for the World University Games, but more than anything he is focused on coming into his sophomore season healthy and ready to really challenge his conference. We wish Ryan the best of luck this week, and in future swimming endeavors!
To see more of Ryan’s swims, check Coach Beth Baker’s youtube channel here–she will be posting his race videos throughout the week!
You can also catch the live stream of the meet at USASwimming.org
Finals from each day will be on NBC Sports Network, as well