Boardman High School senior Ryan Bailey signed to swim for the U.S. Naval Academy this summer at a special event at the high school on Jan. 30. He was joined by family, friends and coaches who spoke highly of what Bailey has achieved in his swimming career.
Bailey currently is the team captain for the Spartan swim team. He holds the school records in the 100-yard butterfly, the 100-yard breaststroke, and the 200-yard medley relay. He is a two-time state qualifier, a five-time All-Ohio honoree, was 2012 Federal League Male Swimmer of the Year, and was twice named Northeast Aquatic Conference Swimmer of the Year.
"This is the first swimmer I have had on my team that is attending any military academy," said BHS swim coach Terry O'Halloran. "Ryan is not only one of the top swimmers I've ever coached, but he is a top leader too."
BHS swimmer Ryan Bailey committed to attend the United States Naval Academy, where he will be a vital member of the swim team. He was joined by his parents Jerry and Christine Bailey and his younger sister Brooke, who is also a member of the Spartan swim team.
Bailey started his swimming career at the age of eight when his family joined the Boardman Tennis and Swim Club. He took to the water and continued to improve.
"When I first started out, I wasn't even placing at the meets," Bailey said. "It was around the seventh grade that I started placing and realized I wanted to swim in college."
Bailey makes swimming a year-round affair. In the off season at Boardman High School, he continues to hit the water with the Penguin Swimmers, teams for five- through 18-year-olds who practice and compete at Youngstown State University. His coach, Greg McAtee, has worked with many top Ohio swimmers and has watched Bailey improve his skills in the water.
"Ryan has steadily progressed to being a national-level swimmer," the coach said.
As for his choice of colleges, he was nominated for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson. Getting into the academy meant more than just being a good swimmer. Bailey said a candidate had to be in top physical condition and have a strong academic background. Bailey carries a 4.0 GPA.
Bailey said he will get a full scholarship at the Naval Academy. He will do a four-year stretch and after graduation, will be required to put in a minimum of five years in the Navy.
"I am looking at getting into submarines or surface warfare," he said. "Whichever I choose, I am sure I will like it."
One person who will really miss him is his sister Brooke, a sophomore at BHS and also a member of the swim team. She said her brother would often help and inspire her to do better in the water.
"I'll miss him a lot, but he made the right choice," Brooke said. "I'm excited for him."
Bailey's father Jerry Bailey said he is proud of his son's accomplishments and will also miss him. He did say there was one thing that he will always be reminded of.
"No one lets me forget that I missed his very first swim meet," Jerry said.
Bailey's mother Christine said she is proud too, but realizes that a lot of people were involved along the way to get her son where he is today.
"It truly does take a whole village to raise a child," she said. "We can't thank everyone enough."
McAtee said, "Anyone who knows Ryan will sleep better at night knowing he is in defense of our country."
Bailey will finish his senior year on the BHS swim team, then will spend a couple of months with the Penguin Swimmers before heading to Annapolis.