Berens came to the University of Texas in the fall of 2006 from North Carolina. Swimming for TSDHOF Hall of Fame coaches Eddie Reese and Kris Kubik, he was a 20-time all-American, member of two NCAA champion relay teams, and was a huge contributor to the Longhorns 2010 NCAA team title.

To begin his International career, Berens won a gold medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay, and silver medals in both the 4×100-meter freestyle and 4×200-meter freestyle relays at the 2007 Pan American Games. At the 2008 summer Olympics, Berens won the gold medal in the men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay with Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Peter Vanderkaay, setting a new world record of 6:58.56. At the 2009 World Championships in Rome he earned gold medals as a member of the 400 and 800 free relays. Berens was also a part of the winning U.S. 4×200-meter freestyle relay teams at the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the 2011 World Championships.

At the 2012 summer Olympics in London, Berens again won a gold medal in the men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay, together with Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Michael Phelps. He also won a silver medal as part of the second-place U.S. team for the men's 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

After a brief retirement, he broke the American record in the 200-yard freestyle (1:31.31) at the 2013 American Short Course Championships. Ricky finished his swimming career with another gold medal in the 800 free relay at the 2013 World Aquatics Championship.

Ricky currently lives in Austin with his wife Elizabeth and son Beau. He continues to give back to the swimming community with clinics, public appearances and most notably serving as treasurer for the TSDHOF.