“I touched the wall and looked up at the time and saw I made it,” Keene State College Senior swimmer Ryan Boraski said.
On the last day possible, Boraski accomplished the goal he set for himself since his first year at KSC: qualify for Olympic trials.
“I hopped out with a little more energy than usual,” Boraski added with a smile.
Since the qualifying times were released by the Olympic Committee, Boraski trained tirelessly up until the qualifying meet. Boraski said he and KSC swimming coach Chris Woolridge “trained every day,” and said coach Woolridge “helped me out a lot.”
In addition to Woolridge’s tutelage, he also received coaching from his club swim team coach out of Medfield, Massachusetts, Kyle Browning, and former KSC swim coach Jack Fabian, in addition to KSC assistant swim coach Diana Pimer and former KSC assistant Dan Morse.
With the odds stacked against him as a division three swimmer, a rare sight at Olympic trials, Boraski also raced in a rather difficult event, the 50-meter freestyle. Boraski described the event as a “just start and finish” type of race with little room for error, making attention to detail in his training very important.
“Any way you can get .1 or .2 seconds faster it’s worth it, so he [Woolridge] helped me out with the little stuff,” Boraski said.
Boraski also dealt with emotional and mental challenges in addition to the physical challenges of his training, having to bounce back from a difficult loss at an NCAA meet just three months prior to Olympic trials.
Teammate and fellow Senior, Nate Shepard said, “When you take a loss like that, you’re either going to take the loss and quit, or take the loss and build upon it. He really built upon it.”
Having been his roommate for sophomore and junior year, Shepard described Boraski as “intense” and said his style of training is “very regimented” in terms of his training and nutrition.
When he heard the news that Boraski had achieved his long sought after goal of qualifying for Olympic trials, Shepard said he was “really happy for him” because he knew how hard he worked.
“Chris and I were not surprised at all,” Assistant Coach Diana Pimer said. “We knew that was going to happen. He just worked so hard and when he sets his mind to something, he’s going to accomplish it 99 percent of the time.”
Being a former teammate of Boraski’s and now his coach, Pimer said they have a special relationship. Pimer was an accomplished KSC swimmer in her own right earning multiple accolades. After beingvvvnamed the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year her first year, Pimer earned Little East Conference (LEC) swimmer of the year her sophomore year and was named KSC female athlete of the year her senior year. In addition to holding several records, Pimer led the Owls to four straight LEC Championships and three New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships in her collegiate career.
Pimer said her role in Boraski’s training was more mental than physical as she always encouraged him, taking it upon herself to build his confidence.
“I never stopped believing that he could do it,” Pimer said. “I knew that he was going to make that time, but it didn’t matter if I knew that. When he gets up to race, he needs to know that.”
Boraski described his trip to the Olympic qualifying meet in Omaha, Nebraska as a“whirlwind.” He said the experience was surreal to him because he got to swim alongside Olympic level swimmers he had seen on television and got to see them in a different light.
“Seeing Michael Phelps…walking by him during warm ups, swimming in the same lane as him during warm ups…that was cool,” Boraski said. “It makes you think of them as just another swimmer, not this mythical thing you see on T.V.”
As far as the future is concerned for Boraski he said he hopes his achievement helps build the swimming program, not only by attracting more recruits, but also by inspiring both current and incoming KSC swimmers to stride for the same success.
“Hopefully incoming potential recruits look at that and say ‘oh this isn’t just a D3 swim team, these guys are here to train’.”
Individually, Boraski hopes to be the first man to take first place in the NCAA’s as no other male Owl has been able to achieve that feat.
“That would be cool to win it, especially for all of the people who came in second all those times, or third all those times,” Boraski said. “Getting over the hump would be cool.”
In regard to his Olympic future, Boraski said he is not sure if he will try to make the 2020 Olympics, as he plans to attend law school after his time at KSC. Even though he is unsure if he will have the same motivation later on, Coach Pimer thinks otherwise.
wPimer said, “I’m really excited to see what he does next because he’s not done. He has more in him, and you have not seen the end of him or his success.”
Nick Tocco can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.