Where Are They Now?  Megan Ryther

Where Are They Now? Megan Ryther

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Megan Ryther was a former member of the USA Swimming national team.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are you doing now?
Megan Ryther: I am working for the NCAA in the Academic and Membership Affairs group. I primarily work with the student-athlete reinstatement team, but also process some academic waivers as well. About a year after retiring from swimming, I started law school and earned my JD/MBA from Marquette University in 2008.

After I graduated from law school, I worked for a two big law firms in Milwaukee and Chicago doing corporate law mainly mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, general corporate matters. After about 4 and a half years, I got a little burnt out with that lifestyle and started looking for other opportunities. The main reason I went to law school at Marquette was because it has one of the best sports law programs in the country so I knew I wanted to get into sports eventually.

Given my swimming background, I was much more interested in amateur and college sports than professional sports so I was mainly looking in that area. Thankfully, about a year and a half ago, an opportunity with the NCAA opened up and I was lucky enough to get an offer. It was a pretty substantial cut in pay, but I am so much happier and haven’t looked back once. The work is still challenging and I am able to work with an incredibly smart and talented group of people on a daily basis.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are you still swimming, either for fitness or masters?
Megan Ryther: It took about 5 years before I was able to get back in the pool, but while I was in Milwaukee and Chicago I swam with two amazing masters teams and competed in a open water swims every once in a while. Big Shoulders in Chicago is one of my favorite races. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a masters group that I like in Indianapolis so I haven’t been swimming as much. However, I did do a 5 km in the Cayman Islands this past summer and hope to participate in that race again this summer. I will probably swim just enough on my own this spring and summer to try to fake it through another 5 km.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you miss the swimming, either workouts or competition?
Megan Ryther: At times, I do not miss it at all, but at other times I miss it a ton. Oddly enough, I probably miss the daily competition during workouts more than I do the big races. I miss being able to push myself well beyond limits I ever thought possible.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How many national teams and international competitions did you participate on during your career?
Megan Ryther: The 1998 FINA World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, the 1999 Pre-World Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii, the 2000 World Open Water Swimming Championships in Honolulu, and the 2003 FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Which were the most memorable? What events were the most fun and the most frustrating?
Megan Ryther: My most frustrating race/trip happened to be my most memorable. I qualified for the 1998 FINA World Championships after swimming the 5 km at USA Swimming National Championships for the first time in the summer of 1997. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into, but was absolutely ecstatic.

Fortunately, there were some veterans on the team that were able to teach me a ton during a domestic camp in Florida before the trip and then again while we were in Perth preparing for the race. I had no idea what to expect during an international race, but quickly learned it was much different than the race at USA Swimming Nationals. Within the first 1 km, I had my goggles ripped down my face and had to roll over to my back to fix them. I just kind of rolled with it and kept going. I tried to stay with the other American Erica Rose, for as long as possible until she took off and destroyed the rest of the field. With about 800 meters to go, I was in the pack behind Erica and all of the sudden two people came up on each side of me and pushed me underwater. Most of the pack swam over the top of me and I came up in about tenth place.

I was able to fight my way back to fourth place, but was absolutely devastated to be just touched out of the medals. However, it turned out that as I was leading the pack, I followed the wrong boat for a little bit. Only the official’s was allowed to head into the harbor and I managed to follow another boat which took most of the other swimmers off of the best line into the finish. Thanks in part to my lack of experience and directional sense and of course Erica’s dominance and the performances from Austin Ramirez and John Flanagan, we were able to come home with the gold medal. Although I didn’t win an individual medal, there is not a better feeling than standing on the top podium with your teammates, watching the American flag be raised above the other two flags, hearing the Star Spangled Banner played in a foreign country especially somewhere like Australia where swimming is so popular and knowing you played a part in making that happen. I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Have you carried over anything from those events or your training to your professional career?
Megan Ryther: There are too many things that I have carried over from both those events and training to my professional career to be able to name them all, but I will try to name a few: hard work, time management, perseverance, determination and teamwork. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the experiences swimming on the national team provided me.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What advice would you give to emerging open water swimmers?
Megan Ryther: This sounds totally cliché, but just enjoy the experiences and have fun. Also, try to learn something from each and every race you do. You never know what is going to happen in a race and as a result, it is a sport that allows you to constantly learn something new from race to race.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones