A former Warrior will soon become a Bulldog.
Ryan Wylie, a recent graduate of Oconee County High School, signed a scholarship to join the swimming and diving team at Georgia. Wylie celebrated the scholarship acceptance in a ceremony at the school during the spring.
For Wylie, the signing of his scholarship documents marked the end of an extensive commitment to the Bulldogs.
“It was cool,” Wylie said about the celebratory event. “I was obviously excited because I've been committed since the fall of my junior year, so I was happy to get it all finalized and stuff.”
He was committed to Georgia for a long time but Wylie’s dream of competing as a collegiate swimmer dates back even further.
Wylie said he first became interested in swimming when he was a young child. His older brother, Robert Wylie, was already swimming by the time he was born. Robert Wylie also graduated from Oconee County High School before competing at West Virginia.
While watching his brother compete from a young age, Wylie figured out early on that he wanted to participate in the sport, too.
“My brother swam and he's about 5 years older than me,” Wylie said. “Since I was born, he was doing summer league already. So, I just kind of grew up around the pool and followed him to practice.”
When the years-long journey to the scholarship signing became complete upon his signing of the necessary documents to accept the offer from Georgia, Wylie was happy to know his dream had been realized.
“I was just excited to have everything set in stone for the most part,” Wylie said.
Wylie committed to Georgia early during his recruiting process and remained steadfast in his decision.
The commitment to Georgia came a week or two after he officially visited the campus and spent time with the program. The Bulldogs were only the second team Wylie had seen at that point in the recruiting process.
Wylie continued looking around the last couple of years. He traveled to visit Louisville. He was also in talks with Auburn.
But Wylie did not budge on his commitment to the Bulldogs.
They offered Wylie everything he was looking for during the process.
“You really can't beat Athens,” Wylie said. “It's just really once of the nicest places to be. I think it might be the best college town in the country. The atmosphere around football and everything is exciting. Swimming-wise, I've known the coaches for a good bit because I've been around them since I was little. I've been friends with a lot of guys on the team and a couple of them swam on my club team before they went to college. I have relationships with some of the people on the team and it's right for me. I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
When it comes time to declare a major at Georgia, Wylie said he plans to study business in some capacity.
Wylie said he hopes to help the Bulldogs continue building one of the premier swimming and diving teams in the country.
“Just try to help the team as much as I can,” Wylie said when asked about his goals at Georgia. “The men's team has gradually gotten better over the past couple of years and we got fourth at NCAAs last year, so I'm just trying to come in and keep the ball rolling and help the team as much as I can.”
Wylie leaves behind a successful tenure with the Warriors.
This season, he won the Class AAA 500-yard freestyle event. He placed first with a time of 4:28.10.
Additionally, Wylie finished second in the 200-yard freestyle event in 25.43. Wylie and the rest of the 400-yard freestyle relay team placed second in the state. Wylie finished fourth as part of the 200-yard freestyle team.
Those competitions and other state-level meets he competed in during his time at Oconee County were thrilling for Wylie.
“It was so much fun,” he said. “High school state is probably the most fun meet I've ever been to because the atmosphere is just crazy. Everybody's always so excited to race and everybody's cheering. It's just a fun environment. The high school team is always a lot of fun because you're there with your friends. ... It's a lot of fun.”