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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Apr. 5, 2018 5 months ago

Ocoee aquatics standout Ryan Le headed to Naval Academy | Observer Preps

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Ocoee High School swimming and water polo standout Ryan Le has been accepted to the United States Naval Academy, where he will walk on for the Midshipmen and — most importantly — serve the country he loves.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

Ryan Le took up swimming and water polo when he arrived at Ocoee High — as a sophomore.

Less a vehicle for a career in college athletics, Le joined the teams and gave the sports a try, in part, to make some friends.

“When I first came (to Ocoee), I knew no one, and the swim team was my in with people,” Le said. “That’s how I started meeting people. Same thing with water polo.”

Three years later, the standout for the Knights has made some friends — and then some.

Le is a senior captain for the water polo team as it nears the completion of its spring campaign. He was also a senior captain for the Ocoee swimming and diving team in the fall.

Indeed, Le’s experience with the aquatics programs at Ocoee has been a good one. Despite the relative brevity of his swimming career, his success in the water has helped to open a door he has been pursuing since middle school.

Le, who originally dreamed of becoming a Navy SEAL, has been accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy. There, he will be a walk-on for the Navy men’s swimming and diving and water polo teams, with a strong chance of continuing his aquatics career with the Midshipmen.

“It’s intimidating, but it’s definitely a challenge I’m willing to take on,” Le said.

At Ocoee, Le entered his name into the Knights’ record books as a junior after breaking the school record for the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:05 — the first of a handful of program records he set. Before that, in the spring of his sophomore year, he had 59 goals, 22 assists and 38 steals for the boys water polo team in his first taste of varsity action.

Le said he has always gravitated toward the idea of serving his country and that war movies and the like have helped fuel that interest along the way. When a representative for the Navy came to campus and shared the ways he had served his country through the Navy and the opportunities it had opened up, it fueled Le’s patriotic passion.

“(Service is) something I want to do,” Le said. “I want to make a difference.”

In addition to hopefully competing for the Midshipmen, Le will study at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. After his studies are complete, he has committed to serve in the U.S. Navy for five years. He said he would like to become a pilot — assuming he doesn’t continue to grow and become too tall — but also mentioned surface warfare as a possible area of service.

Once water polo season concludes, and his career as a Knight along with it, Le said he will be training with his club team — the SouthWest Stars — until he departs for Annapolis in June.

Looking back on his time at Ocoee, Le said he is proud not only of his own success but also of the growth of the programs while he was there — particularly the Knights swimming and diving team.

“We have so many freshmen this year, and they’re all very promising with a lot of potential,” Le said. “I hope that I leave an example.”

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for ObserverPreps.com, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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