When Emily Ryan left Avon High School last year, she put her name on the school’s wall in more ways than one. That’s what happens when someone breaks four school records.
Ryan claimed the 200 and 500 freestyle records (1:52.22, 4:54.77) and was a part of the record breaking 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams (1:38.43, 3:35.65).
It was feats like those that got the attention of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) girls’ swim coach Dawn Dill. She realized Ryan, even only as a freshman, could make some noise with the Engineers.
“As a senior in high school, Emmie had times that would have placed top eight at the 2011 NCAA Division III Championships,” Dill said. “So I knew she would make an immediate impact.”
While Ryan contributed throughout the entire season for MIT, she was instrumental in its postseason run in late February. It kicked off with the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships.
Ryan took first in four events: the 200 free, the 500 free, and the 800 and 1650 relays. Her time in the 1650, 17:06.26, crushed the NEWMAC meet record.
All in all, she helped the team to dominate the meet and take the 2012 NEWMAC Championship. Soon after, she was named the 2012 NEWMAC Swimming and Diving Women’s Rookie of the Year.
“I was really surprised to receive that award,” Ryan said. “It does mean a lot that they picked me though because there were a lot of standout performances at NEWMACs ... I’m honored that they picked me for it.”
The Engineers had a full month to prepare for the NCAA Division III Championships in Indianapolis, but in between that time Ryan suffered a concussion. It kept her out of the pool for 10 days, but by the time the championships came around, she was ready to go.
“I was freaking out that I may not get to swim at Nationals and that if I did get to swim, my performances would not be good,” Ryan said. “I owe a lot of my success to our coaching staff. They were very supportive and helpful through the whole process and were really looking out for me as individual.”
She participated in five races en route to an eighth-place team finish, the best ever for MIT.
“Emmie is tough and she’s got that grit you just can’t teach,” Dill said. “She has an incredible work ethic and brings those intangible qualities to the pool each day that allow her to be one of the best distance swimmers in Division III.”
A swimmer has to place in the top eight of their event to qualify for All-American status and Ryan did so in four of the five. Even in the one she missed out on, the 400-medley relay, the team finished ninth.
Her other relay team in the 800 free placed eighth with a time of 7:36.20.
“Emmie doesn’t let anything hold her back,” Dill said. “She was swimming so well that she anchored our 400 Medley Relay [and] anchored our 800 freestyle relay.”
Individually, she placed fifth in the 500 freestyle (4:55.56) and fourth in the 1650 freestyle (16:59.05).
“I really had no expectations going into the meet,” Ryan said. “When I got up on the blocks for my first race I was just thinking to myself that it would be awesome if I just finished the race and did okay.”
Seeded in the outside lane, she broke her own school record in the 200 free preliminaries with a time of 1:51.51. She went on to place eighth in the finals with a time of 1:53.34.
“Emmie swam very well in Indy,” Dill said. “I thought she’d have a good chance to be All-American in the 500 free and the 1650 free, but her 200 free is what surprised us the most.”
Ryan is majoring in mechanical engineering.