Laura Ryan competing this week on U.S. Olympic trials for diving

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Elk River diver Laura Ryan, who has both a state high school championship and a Big Ten title on her resume, is competing for a spot on the Olympic team this week.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ryan, 19, by phone from Seattle on Monday. “I’m excited that it is  finally here. I am going to give it all I’ve got. I definitely have a shot but I am just focusing on performing all my dives to the best of my ability. If I do that, the results will work out.”

Laura Ryan

Ryan, who has been pointing toward the 2012 Olympics since her sophomore year at ERHS, is competing in 10 meter platform diving. The preliminaries will be held Wednesday morning, semifinals Wednesday evening, and finals on Sunday, and King County Aquatic Center.

NBC will televise men’s 10-mete platform finals Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. and finals men men’s and women’s 3-meter and women’s platform on Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.

Ryan won a Big Ten title her freshman year at Indiana University. She missed the Big Ten meet this past year because she was competing in the World Games in synchronized diving with a fellow Hoosier, in London. They did not make the top eight there, which was required for a shot at the Olympic trials in that event.

Ryan has announced that she will transfer to the University of Georgia for the final two years, leaving one perennial swimming and diving power for another.

“Georgia is just a  better fit for me, both academically and diving,” said Ryan. “I am excited to be joining a new program. They have a chance to win the NCAA championship.”

With the Elks, Ryan got her first statewide attention as a freshman in 2006 when the Star-Tribune saluted her for making finals in both diving (she would finish second) and the 50-meter freestyle (eight), a very rare feat. After ninth grade she gave up both swimming and pole-vaulting (she was fifth at state in eighth  grade) to concentrate on a diving career.

Ryan was state champion as a sophomore in 2007. She missed her junior season with a dislocated shoulder, and did not compete in high school swimming/diving as a senior because she was pursuing a national schedule by then.