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Dan Ketchum




Dan Ketchum was born on 7 OCT, 1981 in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, USA. The family lived in Ireland from July 1994 to August 1996 when his father John Ketchum was the plant manager at the Procter & Gamble plant in Nenagh. They lived in Castletroy, in Limerick City and for the two years in Ireland Dan Ketchum attended Villiers School on the North Circular Road. He first began swimming in Winter Haven, Florida when he was seven years old, his family had been living there at the time and his friends were on a club team so he tried it out. During his time in Ireland he swam for the Limerick Swimming Club, where he was coached by Gerry Ryan and Ann Mulcair, and won several Irish age group swimming titles and also the U15 1500m freestyle at the British Championships. 

Incredibly, he once worked out that in the first 21 years of his life he spent 8,448 hours swimming. On return to USA he attended Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, and University of Michigan where he studied mechanical engineering. During his high school career, Dan Ketchum collected six state swimming championships [the six titles equalled the most ever by an Ohio male swimmer], was a national high school champion, and a two-time national runner-up. He was the 2000 Ohio High School Swimmer of the Year and twice was named Swimmer of the Year by the Cincinnati Enquirer. He went to University of Michigan from 2000 to 2005 - and in the summer of 2001 he represented the United States at the World University Games in Beijing, China winning a bronze in the 200m freestyle and a silver in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay. He was University of Michigan’s Athlete of the Year for 2001-02. Dan’s 2004 season was a year to remember as he became an American Collegiate [NCAA] national champion in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay with University of Michigan, was a member of the USA 4 x 200m freestyle relay team that won gold at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Indianapolis, USA and was also a member of the USA 4 x 200m freestyle relay team that won gold at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

At the US Olympic trials 6’ 4” tall Dan Ketchum finished fifth in the 200m freestyle and qualified for the Olympics that were held in Athens in 2004. Overcoming a torn rotator cuff [in shoulder], he was last in the eight-man final entering the last 50 metres. Planning to retire after the trials or the Olympics if he qualified he needed to place in the top six to make the relay team. He made a stirring surge to claim fifth place in 1 minute 48.67 seconds – seven tenths of a second under his previous best. At the Olympic Games in Athens the heats of the 4 x 200m freestyle relay were held on the morning of 17 AUG, 2004 and Dan Ketchum swam the third leg for USA in 1 minute 48.10 seconds helping his team qualify for the evening finals with the Americans swimming the fastest qualifying time. Later in the evening, in the final, with the help of multi-Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and Olympic medalist Klete Keller, USA won the gold, Australia second and Italy third. Since 2006 Dan Ketchum has been working for General Electric where he is a manufacturing programmes leader with GE Aviation. He and his wife Lori live in Loveland, Ohio with their 18-month-old daughter, Halle. Dan Ketchum was head coach of the swim team at Loveland High School from 2009 - 2011. “It was great catching up with some of the Irish swimmers I competed against and swam with during my time in Ireland at the World University Games in 2001 and in the 2004 Olympics,” he says. “I believe I speak for my whole family when I say that we would really like to get back to Ireland in the not too distant future. We all really enjoyed our time over there, met some great people, and loved the beautiful countryside.” Proctor & Gamble are one of the sponsors of the London Olympic Games and on July 6th [this Friday] Evanna Morrissey, an employee at the Procter & Gamble plant in Nenagh will represent the plant in the Olympic torch relay. She will carry the torch in Grays, Essex where Procter & Gamble are also based. Evanna Morrissey competed in athletics for Nenagh Olympic AC, has won numerous Irish junior and juvenile titles mainly in sprints, hurdles and jumps, won the Irish senior indoor 600m title in 1990, and still holds the Tipperary indoor record for 800m [2:17.26] and long jump [5.87m]. A native of Ballycommon, near Nenagh, she now lives in nearby Newtown.

Next Week:

Thomas Chamney, Olympic athlete from Clonmel

©Michael O’Dwyer

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