JINSHAN CITY, China -- Hixson resident Sean Ryan was part of a first in a first at the World Aquatic Championships on Thursday morning.
A day after finishing 25th out of 67 participants in the 10-kilometer open water event that qualified 10 men for the 2012 Olympics, Ryan and United States teammates Andrew Gemmell and Ashey Twichell won the 5k open water team pursuit. That was a first-time event at the world championships, so the University of Michigan sophomore and former McCallie School standout will forever be part of a historic accomplishment.
Seventeen countries were represented with two men and one woman. Australia finished second, 1.2 seconds behind the U.S. trio.
Ryan finished 11th this morning (Thursday night EDT) in the individual 5k, which he won in the nationals last month.
"Today was a great day," Ryan was quoted on USA Swimming's website after the team race. "I won my first international medal and couldn't think of a better way than gold at the world championships. It is also great to be able to share this honor with two of my teammates. We swam a hard race and Ashley was really impressive keeping the pace that Andrew set.
"Winning the team time trial is really a testament to how far we have come as a team as well," Ryan added. "Everyone was involved, whether they were cheering us on, helping us develop our strategy or helping us get through the ready rooms and ready to race."
Ryan finished only 56 seconds short of qualifying for the Olympics in the men's 10k Wednesday morning. The top 31 were within 1 minute, 27.2 seconds of each other.