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NC State swimmer Ryan Held earns spot on Team USA, punches ticket to Rio Olympics

Swimming: U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Swimming Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

NC State sprinter Ryan Held finished third in the 100M freestyle finals at the U.S. Olympic trials on Thursday night, securing himself a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Held will compete in the 4x100M freestyle relay event in Rio.

Held was a mere .03 seconds off of second place in the final, and he came into the event as the No. 2 overall seed, second only to 2012 gold medalist Nathan Adrian. Held did not enter the week as a favorite to make the U.S. team, but stepped up in the preliminaries to give himself a great shot in the final, and he took full advantage of that.

NC State is sending four swimmers to the Olympics, which is a school record. It could send a fifth: Hennessey Stuart qualified for Friday’s 200M backstroke final.

So far, though, Held is the only American from NCSU going to Brazil. His NC State teammates Soren Dahl (Denmark), Anton Ipsen (Denmark), and Simonas Bilis (Lithuania) will be swimming for their respective countries in Rio. Held, Ipsen, and Dahl were the bulk of the Wolfpack 4x100M relay team that took home a national title this past season.

It’s been a heck of a year for the swimming program: the men’s team won its second consecutive ACC title and tied its best-ever finish at NCAAs, while winning its first-ever national title in a relay event. The program is sending a school-record four (five?) swimmers to the Olympics. And the women’s team, hardly a slouch itself, finished 9th at NCAAs.

Go Pack and go America. (And also Denmark and Lithuania.)