After just missing the cut for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swim Team, Chattanooga's Sean Ryan spent the next 4 years working harder, and he's now the first McCallie grad to make a U.S. Olympic Swim Team.

"Hard work pays off, yeah," said Ryan's father.

Sean Ryan's parents have witnessed that hard work has paid off for Ryan, both in and out of the water.

Sean's a very busy and successful 24-year old. He has a masters degree, works a full-time job as an engineer in Detriot, and still finds time to swim with, and beat, the best in the world.

"He'd be traveling and taking a test before midnight, submitting a paper before midnight, while traveling the world," said Ryan's father. 

"His freshman year he swam the short course World Championship in Dubai, and at midnight Dubai time, his coach had to proctor a final exam for him," said Ryan's mother.

Ryan graduated a state champion from McCallie in 2010. By 2012, he finished 25th in the 10K Open Water World Championships.The cutoff to make Team USA was 10th.

"As an 8-year-old he was the 8-year-old champion, after that he kept getting beat every year. But, he learned keep working hard, as long as you're beating yourself and improving your times, good things will come and they have," said Ryan's father.

True to form, even more than a decade after he was eight, Ryan improved.

Four years after just missing the Olympics, he returned to the World Championships. He finished 4th, just three seconds behind 3rd place, earning that Olympic spot.

Ryan and his family are already in Rio, but leading up to it, mom has been reluctant to talk shop.

"Avoided the topic of swimming, and what he was doing for it," said Ryan's mother.

Mom figures the coaches have that handled. The time is now for Ryan and McCallie School in Rio.

Just last week, Chattanooga's newest Olympian celebrated his 24th birthday.

He's hoping the celebration continues this week. The 10K Open Water is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16th at 8:00 a.m.