Jerry Holan was 1949 National High School Champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, swimming for Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Illinois, and won the National YMCA 200-yard breaststroke championship that year. He started college at Iowa State but dropped out within two weeks and later attended The Ohio State University. Holan was an All-American for the Buckeyes in 1951, 1952, and 1953, helping them win the Big 10 300 yard medley relay all three years. In 1953 he won the Big 10 200 yd breaststroke and was NCAA Champion in the 200 yard butterfly, before that stroke used a dolphin kick. He also helped Ohio State win NCAA titles in the medley relay in 1951 and 1953.
After graduating from Ohio State with a business degree, Holan began work for Bell Telephone. He left for a tour of duty in the Korean War, as an artillery officer with the US Army, but returned after the war to work for Bell for his entire business career. Holan was inducted into the Ohio State Hall of Fame in 1997.