Imagine your career on display live for 30,000 people and broadcasted all over the world. Ryan Held, Olympic swimmer and recent graduate of the NC State College of Natural Resources, is not one to buckle under pressure. His strength was tested at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he won gold in the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay alongside fellow athletes like Michael Phelps.
That strength was recently tested once more as Held stepped up to one of his biggest challenges yet: educating children and families in the Naturalist Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Held began his internship in the Naturalist Center in August of 2018 with a goal to combine his love for swimming and competing with applied science. He was able to pursue his passion by teaching children about the natural environment and how they connect to human’s everyday lives, but most relevant to him, how animals are best adapted to move through water. He encourages hands-on learning with his students by utilizing the museum’s cart program to create a mock swimming meet between a shark and human. Not surprisingly, the shark won.
Originally published Dec. 18, 2018.