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Catching up with Ryan Held: Springfield’s Golden Swimmer

Ryan Held chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about the 2021 Short Course Worlds in Abu Dhabi, and he shares his plans for 2022.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Held
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Held. Photo Courtesy of Mike Lewis, USA Swimming
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Held. Photo Courtesy of Mike Lewis, USA Swimming

Olympic gold medalist and American swimmer Ryan Held chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about the 2021 Short Course Worlds in Abu Dhabi, and he shares his plans for 2022.

Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Olympian Ryan Held, 26, who hails from Springfield, Illinois, is living proof of this wise quotation by the cartoon icon.

Held holds the U.S. Open record in the 100 meter freestyle race (long-course), and three world records in the short course relay events.

2021 Short Course Worlds

Held won a total of six medals at the 2021 FINA Short Course World Championships that took place in Abu Dhabi. These include two gold medals in the relay races (4×200 meter freestyle and the 4×50 meter medley), three silver medals (50 meter freestyle, the 4×100 meter medley relay, and the 100 meter freestyle), and a bronze medal (4×100 meter freestyle). Team USA was the biggest winner claiming 30 medals and “Team of the Meet” Honors.

On being a part of the 2021 FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi, he said, “That was great. They were a lot of fun. I love Short Course Worlds, they are a fun meet with a laid-back feeling. This was a nice confidence booster after the summer.”

Future plans

Regarding his plans for 2022, Held said, “To swim at the Trials for World Championships in Greensboro and hopefully, make the U.S. team for the Worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.”

In his personal life, Held got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Lexie Lupton, a fellow NC State swimming alumna. “I felt really really nervous when I popped the question to Lexie, but now I am super excited for our wedding. It has just been great,” he said.

“Now, we are in Phoenix, Arizona, and we are enjoying life,” he said. “A silver lining in the pandemic is that it brought a very humbling mindset to me in swimming. You are not invincible and things can happen, and that’s life, and how you can respond to it.”

“Also, I am graduating from my Master’s program in December and I am getting married in December, so it will be a crazy month for me,” he said. “Once I finish my Master’s degree in Geospatial Science, I will start applying for jobs.”

Held listed the freestyle as his personal favorite stroke in swimming. “I am starting to become a breaststroker. Watch out Nic Fink,” he said with a sweet laugh. “I am trying to focus more on the individual medley (IM).”

“I have to thank my family, my mom, my dad, my brother, and my fiance have always been right there,” he said. “Even when I returned back to my hometown of Springfield, and they were all supportive and loving, and that really helped me a lot. Their support was really nice and cool.”

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Held said, “Rebirth or Metamorphosis.”

Held defined the word success as “being the best student he can be, and how he can be the best husband and family man.” “Swimming is a part of my life but now I have other things that make me more complete.”

Rapid Fire Questions

Held also took some time to answer a few “Rapid Fire” questions.

Waffles or pancakes? Pancakes
Flying or driving? Flying
City living or country living? City living
Summer or winter? Summer
Library or museum? Museum
Bath or shower? Shower
Pepsi or Coke? Coke
Texting or calling? Calling
Half-full or half-empty? Half-full, I am pretty optimistic
Curly fries or normal fries? Curly fries
Skydiving or scuba diving? Scuba diving
Indoor pool or outdoor pool? Outdoor pool
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Rain or snow? Snow
Singing or dancing? Dancing
Burgers or tacos? Burgers
Long course or short course? Long course
Money or fame? Money

For more information on Olympic champion Ryan Held, follow him on Instagram.

Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 16,000 original articles over the past 15 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a five-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past two years, he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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