Robins officer makes a splash with Air Force swim team

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
When not crunching numbers as a budget analyst, one Air Force first lieutenant is busy making a splash in the pool.

Ryan Fitzgerald, former team captain for the Air Force Academy swim team was recently selected for the Air Force swim team. 

Fitzgerald, who specialized in long distance events, is a member of the Robins Air Force Base 78th Comptroller Squadron.

In September, following a week of training at Sembach Air Base, Germany, he competed against members of several European air forces in Eindhaven, Holland. 

Fitzgerald took second in the 400-meter freestyle, but that was just the icing on the cake. He said the best part was just being able to travel overseas to compete. He said his sport has allowed him to see other parts of the world he'd otherwise never see.

"It's always been a joy of mine to travel and represent the Air Force when I can," he said. "Swimming has definitely given me that opportunity. Because of swimming, I've been able to see a lot of interesting places around the world. I feel a great admiration to the Air Force for giving me the opportunity to travel to places like Germany and Holland to compete against other air forces."

Fitzgerald helped the Air Force team finish in second place at the international competition, the best the men's team has done in numerous years, said Steve Lowe of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe sports.

Fitzgerald said training is tough, but worth it.

"The training schedule is so demanding," he said. "To compete at such a high level, you really have to commit yourself to 10 to 11 practices a week. You have to practice Monday through Friday, once in the morning and once in the evening and again on Saturday for three or four hours. To be able to keep up that schedule is very challenging."

Fitzgerald said his background in swimming and his ability to train so rigorously has benefited him in his duties as an Air Force officer.

"Growing up as a high school and collegiate athlete has definitely paid huge dividends for me in the military," he said. "When we do our early morning physical training sessions or when we have to do a week-long exercise where we are running 24-hour operations, it really wears on your body. Swimming has taught me endurance and keeps me in good physical shape, which allows me to perform my duties for the Air Force at a high level."

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