For this month’s Perfect 10, we’ve got 10 questions with national team member Laura Ryan, who recently concluded her collegiate career with NCAA titles on 1-meter and 3-meter while competing for the University of Georgia.
1) Congratulations on a successful finish to a terrific NCAA career. What did it mean to you to finish out with two NCAA titles as well as the team title?
“I had high expectations. To go out with two individual titles and the team championship was such an exciting way to end my career. It was an amazing team to be a part of.”
2) It had to be pretty special just to win, but to have those wins come at Minnesota, where you are from, had to make it even more special. What was it like to have your last NCAAs at that pool?
“It was so awesome to have the best meet of my college career at my home pool. I had my entire family there cheering me on and being my support system. I’ve been working so hard, and it’s amazing to think how far I’ve come. Everything started for me at that pool.”
3) We read an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune after you won … it seems you truly were a member of the swimming AND diving team at Georgia, having been asked by the swim coach to swim on a relay at a dual meet against Emory earlier this year. What do think the swimmers would say if Dan Laak ever asked them to get up on the diving boards?
“I swam all through high school, so that dual meet was just something we did for fun. It was awesome, and I had fun doing it. I’m pretty sure if Dan asked the swimmers to dive, they’d say, ‘No!’”
4) You’ve always been a pretty versatile diver, but up until these past two years, most of your success has come on platform. But lately, you’ve been more of a springboard diver. What would you say has been the difference?
“It’s been a process. I’ve matured as a diver, and that’s helped with the transition to springboard. It’s given me a lot of confidence, and I’ve been training it a lot more. And especially now that I’m done with platform, I can be a lot more focused on springboard.”
5) You finished third on platform at NCAAs to go along with your two titles on the springboard events, so that was a pretty solid all-around meet. Are you sure you’re strictly a springboard diver from this point on? No more 10-meter, really?
“Well, never say never, but I’m pretty confident I’m never going to go off that thing again.”
6) One of the differences between NCAA Diving and USA Diving is that you have to perform a sixth dive on springboard at the NCAA level. You clinched your 3-meter title with a front 2 ½ with 2 twists. That’s a dive that typically only men do, and you did it fairly well at NCAAs. Any plans to compete it internationally?
“My goal was to be able to win an NCAA title with that dive. Looking more long-term, I’d love to do the dive internationally, and I’d like to have it as an option for World Cup. I’m going to keep training it and hopefully I can get it at the level where my full out is at.”
7) The 2016 Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and you’ve been training with three-time Brazilian Olympian Cesar Castro in Georgia. How have you benefited from having him as a training partner?
“I see him every day and think about where the next Olympics are going to be. Training with him is awesome. I’ve really been able to incorporate a lot of what he’s learned throughout his career into my own training, and that’s been huge for me.”
8) You’ve got a pretty busy schedule these next few months. After the Synchro Trials, you’ve got Grand Prix meets in Puerto Rico and Mexico next month and the FINA World Cup in Shanghai in July. What are you hoping to get out of those competitions?
“My biggest focus for the Grand Prix meets is to just treat them like any other competition. My mindset is to get ready for World Cup. I’m really training hard for World Cup and want to see where I am internationally with a year to go before Olympic qualifying begins. This year is a big opportunity for me to get more international experience.”
9) And speaking of all that travel, what’s one thing you have to take with you on every trip?
“I have to have my noise cancelling headphones. I can’t compete without them.”
10) When you aren’t in class or diving, what do you like to do?
“I like to be outside. I like to hang out at the pool at my apartment, and I like to go to the movies. I just saw Divergent, and it was really good.”