Current Issue - Fall 2013 / People

Junior swimmer making the most of DU life

“There are so many opportunities here that you wouldn’t get at a big university,” says Ryan Holly. “I’m just trying to take advantage of all these things.” Photo: Ce Shi

What does University of Denver junior Ryan Holly like about swimming?

As you might expect from a molecular biology major, his answer is very scientific.

“I like that you can quantitate how well you’re doing,” he says. “You can mark your progress as you go. In basketball or football, there’s no real way of determining if you’ve gotten better throughout the season. In swimming, if you went a faster time, you just got better.”

Holly, who grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., has been on the Pioneers swimming and diving team since his first year on campus. He was elected captain in April. During the season he practices with the team six days a week. That’s in addition to weight training three times a week and meets every other week.

When he’s not in the pool, you’re likely to find Holly in a biology lab, where he’s working with Assistant Professor Todd Blankenship to research the effects of certain proteins in fruit flies. The work could help to answer questions about the way cancer grows and spreads.

“At a big school, you’d have so much competition to get into a lab, and chances are you’re just going to be doing a small portion of a project,” Holly says. “Here, I have my own project. It’s been fun.”

After DU, Holly plans to apply to medical school — and his impressive academic record should help him get there. In April, he was awarded Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Academic honors for maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA. For two years in a row he was named DU Scholar Athlete of the Year for having the highest GPA of all student-athletes in his class. And his first year on campus, he earned a spot on the Sun Belt Commissioner’s List by earning a 3.5 GPA or better.

Between academics and athletics, it’s clear Holly is making the most of his time on campus.

“There are so many opportunities here that you wouldn’t get at a big university,” he says. “I’m just trying to take advantage of all these things. You can only be an undergraduate once.”

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