Year: Alumni 2008
Major: Civil Engineering
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Adam Ritter spends more time with his clothes off than he does on. I'm sure this brings a wave of different thoughts. However, before you get too many ideas, let me crush any fantasies and tell you that Ritter is currently training for the 2012 Olympic swimming trials. This impressive pursuit takes immense focus and intense training that only the most qualified of swimmers ever attempt. Ritter is not only a tremendous athlete but also an accomplished student with a degree in civil engineering. To give you a better feel for what kind of person Ritter is, he was the first ever male athlete to be voted Homecoming King at University of Arizona his senior year. I know he sounds like a dream come true and well, we won't argue with that.
HC: How did you get started in swimming?
Ritter: Well, both of my parents are swimmers as well as a bunch of my uncles. Swimming has always been in the family but my parents didn't want to force me into it. When I was 8 years old my dad kind of snuck me off to the pool and signed me up for a summer swim class. I wasn't very good and it’s something that my dad and I joke about now. I got out of my first swim practice and somewhat crying I'm sure, told my dad that I was one of the 3 worst swimmers on the team. He looked at me and told me that the only way I would get better was to practice. I've always been tall so I tried a lot of different sports but was pretty awful at all of them. When I realized I wasn't good at other sports I started focusing on swimming and after I really focused things started to move quickly for me.
HC: Coming from Ohio, how did you end up swimming for UA?
Ritter: I got a scholarship to come here but truthfully I was looking at a lot of different schools. When I came out to Arizona I knew almost immediately after talking to the coach and being on campus that this was where I wanted to be. I signed a couple weeks later and came 2,000 miles away.
HC: Were your parents supportive of your decision?
Ritter: Well yes and no. My parents said go wherever you want but get a scholarship and pay your way if you want to go out of state.
However, if you stay in Ohio, we'll help you out. I just knew that
Ohio State wasn't the school that fit me the best. My mom was a little devastated about me leaving. My dad wanted me to stick around for financial reasons but my mom wanted me close to the family.
HC: When you came to UA, were you a top swimmer right away?
Ritter: Not at all, it took me a while to find my bearings. I thought
I knew a lot coming in but I was a small fish in a big pond. The first two years I kind of struggled, Arizona is just stacked. I realized how far I had to go. It took me until my junior year to really break out and see myself as someone that belonged.
HC: Have you always been a freestyle swimmer?
Ritter: I had always been a freestyler, that's what I was recruited as. I started doing different things when I got to college, which is opposite of most swimmers. The longer you swim, the less likely you are to just switch it up. The individual medley became my best event in college. I actually favor the medley because I get bored doing just one thing. Swimming can be boring in general but medley is different, it keeps it fresh.
HC: What drove you to pursue the Olympics?
Ritter: I had a really good senior year and ended up making it onto the U.S National Team. Generally when a swimmer finishes college that's game over but I had made the World University Games so I thought might as well keep swimming. I ended up having a huge summer after I graduated and was among the top 10 swimmers in the world. At that point I decided i'd keep going until the 2008 Olympic trials. The 2008 trials didn't go as well as i'd hoped but after that I got a job and worked in the real world for a couple of years but always kept training. Just this past year coaches started calling and asking me what my plan was for 2012. I honestly didn't really expect it. I was still in good swimming shape and decided to give it another try. It took a lot of thought but thankfully I was in a position where I was able to drop what I was doing and put my life on hold for 11 months.
HC: You've already been to the Olympic trials once, do you think that
gives you an advantage?
Ritter: The Olympic trials in 2008 were unlike anything i'd ever been to. They literally put a temporary pool on the floor of a basketball arena for 14-15,000 people at a swim meet. It was a lot of pressure and I didn't handle the pressure as well as I could have. There were a lot of people predicting how you'll do and that was a lot to swallow.
At the time I was kind of blown away but I think I know what to expect now.
HC: If we're being honest, what do you think your chances are of making the 2012 team?
Ritter: I'd like to think I have a good chance. I wouldn't be doing it
if I didn't. I'm confident in myself, I'm in a healthy environment and
I think my coaches have faith in me. I somewhat take after my mom in that I don't always go the safe route. In order to win its big risk, big reward. I just know that if I don't go for it, I can't come back and try again in 50 years, I have to do it now. The 200 meter freestyle is my best shot. I'm fortunate because in that event they take six swimmers opposed to most events where they take two. However, because it is six, it's more competitive, more people try for that event. Swimming is a small sport so of course i'm up against people that I know and consider my friends. You hope they do well but in the race you want to rip some heads off. I've never doubted that I have Olympic talent; it just comes down to whether or not it happens. We'll see if it comes out, you have to do it in one race, in one day. If you get sick or false start, too bad.
HC: What would it mean to you to make it to the Olympics?
Ritter: This has been a goal of mine ever since I was 8 years old. If you swim, you want to go to the Olympics. it would be a dream come true. I feel like it's really close and it has me excited and motivated to wake up at 4:30 am and go swim. It is the last and number one thing I want to accomplish in my swim career. One reason I went into civil engineering is so that I would have a life after this. If I make it, I’ll play it by ear. If I don't make it, I have dreams of getting my MBA and using my civil engineering degree, either way it’s a win win for me.
HC: What advice would you give to other athletes pursuing their goals?
Ritter: Since I was never a natural at my sport, I live by "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." Nothing came naturally but I knew I could work hard at anything and eventually be good at it.
Just be persistent and be self-motivated. Have good work ethic, if you're not the most talented you can't control that, work at what you can control; working hard toward your goal.
The world and HerCampus will have their eyes set on Adam Ritter come summer 2012. We're confident that Ritter has what it takes to represent Team USA in London but regardless; it's obvious he'll be successful doing whatever comes his way.