John Ryan is in his third season as Trinity’s assistant swimming coach.
However, Coach Ryan spent 25 years as the head coach of the Tiger men’s and women’s swimming teams. He retired from the head coach position in May 2017 and moved into the role of assistant coach.
He was appointed head coach in June 1992, and the swim teams began competition the following fall season. It marked the beginning of Trinity’s first-ever varsity swimming & diving program.
During Coach Ryan’s tenure as head coach, 24 men’s and women’s swimmers (14 men and 10 women) earned All-America accolades following the NCAA Division III Championships.
In March 2014, Stephen Culberson became Tiger swimming’s first national champion, as he captured the NCAA 100-yard freestyle event. Culberson later qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
The success of Trinity’s teams also extended to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) on Coach Ryan’s watch. The Tiger women captured 17 of 19 SCAC Swimming & Diving Championships, including 14 in a row from 2004-2017. Trinity’s men won 10 SCAC Championships during the time period, beginning in 1999.
Seven of his men’s swimmers and four women received SCAC Swimmer of the Year distinction while serving as head coach. Coach Ryan has earned SCAC Coach of the Year honors 15 times to include SCAC Coaching Staff of the Year on several of those occasions.
Coach Ryan was instrumental in the Tigers’ success in the 2018 season, as four women’s swimmers earned All-America and Honorable Mention All-America kudos. The men’s and women’s squads also captured SCAC Championships, and Trinity “ran the board” on SCAC Swimmer and Diver of the Year honors.
Prior to joining the Trinity staff, Coach Ryan oversaw the men’s and women’s programs at Wesleyan (CT) University from 1986-1992. He had 19 individuals achieve NCAA Division III All-America recognition while at Wesleyan. From 1982-1986 he was the head women’s coach at Southern Methodist (TX) University and led a previously unranked team to a top-10 Division I national finish. Coach Ryan’s 1984-85 squad posted an undefeated season, highlighted by a victory over the NCAA national champion University of Texas.
Coach Ryan had earlier ties to San Antonio in his career. He was the head coach of the San Antonio Aquatic Club (SAAC) and the aquatics coordinator of the North East Independent School District from 1976-1982. Coach Ryan organized the North East Summer Swim League in 1977 and enlarged the program to over 30 teams by 1982. In the fall of 1977, Coach Ryan brainstormed the founding of the Alamo Area Aquatic Association (AAAA), which has helped coordinate club and high school swimming in the greater San Antonio aquatics community.
SAAC swimmer Cassie Cochran set two American breaststroke records in January 1977 while competing for the USA in Paris, France. Coach Ryan also guided five SAAC/AAAA swimmers to gold-medal National Junior Olympic record-breaking performances between 1979 and 1982.
A former U.S. Army officer, Coach Ryan served as the swimming coach of the United States Modern Pentathlon Training Center at Fort Sam Houston (in San Antonio) from 1970-1972. He was on the staff of the gold-medal winning USA team at the 1971 CISM (international military sports) in Thun, Switzerland. Three of his athletes competed for the USA Modern Pentathlon team at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. After the Munich Games, Coach Ryan completed a tour of duty in the former Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) before leaving the service in 1973.
Coach Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin (ME) College in 1969 and a master’s in education from The College of William and Mary (VA) in 1976. While in graduate school in 1973, Coach Ryan founded the Peninsula YMCA Swim Team at Newport News, Virginia. His team won the 1975 Virginia Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Age Group Championship, and the squad later finished fourth at the national YMCA Championships.