McCallie grad to swim in Rio Olympics - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

McCallie grad to swim in Rio Olympics

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

With the clock racing towards Friday's Olympic Opening Ceremony, one Chattanoogan will be going for the gold.

McCallie School grad Sean Ryan is on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team. He qualified for the Men's 10k Marathon -- a grueling two-hour swim in the ocean.

Channel 3 caught up with Sean's parents, Eugene and Margret, about their son's "Road to Rio."

"Hard work pays off," they told Channel 3.

For Sean, hard work has paid off -- both in the water and out of the water.

The 23-year-old holds a master's degree, works a full-time engineering job in Detroit, and somehow, finds enough time to be an Olympic athlete.

"He would be traveling and taking a test before midnight, submitting a term paper before midnight, while he was traveling all over the world," Eugene explained.

Sean graduated from McCallie in 2010. He went on to swim for the University of Michigan, and picked up several medals along the way.

But it all started back here in the Scenic City, swimming as a kid to help manage his asthma.

"He was the 8-year-old champion. After that, he kept getting beat every year," Eugene said. "But he learned to just keep working hard. As long as you're beating yourself and improving your times, good things will come to you eventually. And they have."

Sean's 2012 Olympic dream was cut short as an 18-year-old. Needing a top-10 finish, he placed 25th at the 2011 Open Water World Championships in China.

Last year, he finished 4th in Russia to finally earn a spot on the Olympic Team.

Right now, the team is traveling and getting ready for Friday's opening ceremony.

When Sean is able to check in with mom, she's reluctant to talk sports.

"We avoided the topic of swimming, and what he was doing for it," Margret said.

Knowing their son is in the zone, they can't wait to cheer him on in Rio.

The Ryan's plan to leave for Rio on the 13th, which happens to be Sean's 24th birthday.

The Men's 10k Marathon Swim is scheduled for the 16th at 8 a.m.

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