Ryan Falk gives ‘student-athlete’ new meaning

Junior swimmer not only sets records for WSU in pool, but in academics too



Junior freestyle swimmer Ryan Falk describes how she is a creature of habit and does not change these habits pre-meet, Feb. 5 afternoon at Gibb Pool. “I came up on a tour up here and absolutely fell in love,” she said.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

In a time when student-athletes are pushed to the limit in competition and in the classroom, WSU junior swimmer Ryan Falk thrives in both as she excels in her academics and in the pool.

As an apparel merchandising and design major, Falk knows the importance of creating something that looks good. However, as a leader on the swim team, she also knows the value of guiding the WSU swimming program back to prominence.

Growing up in Illinois before moving to Oregon, Falk had her eyes set on becoming a collegiate swimmer in the Pacific Northwest before becoming a leader in the WSU swim program.

“I came up on a tour up here and absolutely fell in love with the campus, the coaches and the team,” Falk said. “It was the best fit for me.”

Falk has been determined to lead the Cougs through her first three seasons in Pullman.

She was part of the 800-meter freestyle relay team that broke the school record at the Pac-12 Championships in 2018 with a time of 7:12.87. She also swam a career-best time at the Pac-12 Championships in the 500-meter freestyle by swimming 4:50.99.

Although seeing her name in the books is exciting, Falk said she stays humble as she enjoys her time on the team and in the conference.

“It means a lot to me. It’s really cool having my name on the record board over there and doing something alongside my teammates,” Falk said. “Competing in the Pac-12 Conference is an amazing opportunity. There are so many Olympians in our conference and it is so cool to be in a conference that is so competitive.”

Just as Falk takes care of business in the pool, she does the same in the classroom. As a sophomore last year, she was recognized for her scholastic efforts by earning Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team honors with a 3.57 GPA.

Receiving this award was important to Falk because she said she felt it assured she was on the right track for her career as well as her success in the pool.

“It meant a lot to me, it just helped reinforced that everything is working and I am still on top of my swimming and I am going on a good path for my career,” Falk said. “A lot of my stuff is outside of class, so I have to stay on top of it by doing study hours, I volunteer to do extra study hours because I know I need to hold myself more accountable.”

All of the work she does in and out of the pool does not go unnoticed. One person who sees her on a daily basis is WSU Head Swim Coach Matt Leach.

“Obviously when we came in leadership isn’t something that should be given or a title from a head coach or teammates,” Leach said. “It is something you do or don’t do on a daily basis, in the pool or out of the pool, inside the classroom or the weight room. With [Falk] it is nice because we have been able to have someone get the pulse of the program from where we are at.”

Even though the regular season is winding down, Falk still has some big goals for the remainder of the season and next year.

“I definitely want to get some wins at our final dual-meet,” Falk said. “Going into Pac-12s, I hope to make finals and score some more points for the team … and hopefully swim along with our four other teammates that have already made it.”

Falk has already made a giant impact in her time in Pullman so far and she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.