Ryan Murphy is an American backstroker and World record holder in the 100m Backstroke. He was born July 2, 1995 in Palos Heights, IL to Pat and Katy Murphy.
High School Swimming
Growing up, Murphy attended Bolles School where he swam as a Shark under head coach Sergio Lopez. In his time as a Shark, Murphy broke 26 National Age Group Records in events such as the 100-meter and yard backstrokes, 200-meter and yard backstrokes, 200-yard IM, 400-yard IM, 200-meter butterfly, and 50-yard freestyle. Murphy currently holds eight of them still today (17-18 100-meter backstroke, 17-18 200-yard backstroke, 15-16 100-meter backstroke, 15-16 100-yard backstroke, 15-16 200-yard backstroke, 11-12 200-meter backstroke, 11-12 100-yard backstroke, and 11-12 200-yard backstroke).
During his rookie campaign, Murphy was named the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year and was a 2014 NCAA champion as a member of the Bears’ 200 free relay, American record 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. He also won the 100-yard backstroke (44.63) in a school record time and the 200 yard backstroke (1:37.35) in a NCAA record time as a rookie at the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Coming off of a stellar freshman season Murphy qualified for the NCAA Championships again. He started off the meet by anchoring the 200-yard free relay, and unsurprisingly had one of the fastest splits in the field taking his team to a silver medal. He advanced to the final of the 200-yard IM, and finished 5th overall with the help of a blazing first half. Murphy ended the day with a lead off leg of the 400 medley relay, which went on to win Cal’s second relay silver medal of the meet. His 100 back split nearly broke 44 seconds, and was a new NCAA Meet Record.
On day two Murphy started the finals session by swimming the backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay. His split of 20.64 was the fastest backstroke split of the meet, and helped Cal touch in first for its first relay gold of the meet. Just breaking the NCAA Record the day before, Murphy had plenty of confidence going into the 100 back. He had control of the race by the first 50 yards, but it was his back-half that blew away the heat to take gold, just .04 seconds away from re-breaking his records.
Having broken the NCAA Record in the 200-yard back in 2014 Murphy was a heavy favorite in the event. His first 100 yards was nearly another American Record, splitting 47.32, and held his pace for the next 100 yards to touch 1st about an entire second under his own NCAA Record. This time around however, he was under Ryan Lochte’s American Record set in 2007. To end the meet Murphy anchored the 400 free relay with a 41.17 second split to help Cal finish 3rd. He was named the NCAA, Pac-12 and CSAA Swimmer of the Year.
Murphy lowered his own NCAA, American, Championship and Pool Records in the 100 Backstroke by over half a second. Swimming to a 43.49, he was almost two full seconds ahead of the field. Perhaps more noteworthy, he lowered the same records in the 200 backstroke, beating his former time by over a second. Again his time of 1:35.73 was well ahead of the rest of the field, this time touching the wall almost three seconds ahead.
Interesting side note, Murphy was named co-swimmer of the meet, sharing the title with his former age group teammates, and Bolles Swimming alumni Caelab Dressel and Joseph Schooling.
Murphy managed to win the backstroke double at the NCAA Championships for the fourth straight year. In the 100 yard backstroke he was unsurprisingly ahead from start to finish, touching for gold in 43.99. That time was a pool record, however it was half a second away from his own U.S., American and NCAA record he set the year before.
In the 200 yard backstroke, Murphy sat behind Texas’ John Shebat for the first 150 yards, but a final split of 24.74 (almost 1 second quicker than Shebat) saw Murphy overtake Shebat to stay undefeated in the backstroke events for his college campaign. Murphy took gold in 1:36.75. Again that was good enough for a pool record but short of his own NCAA, U.S. and American record set a year earlier.
Murphy also picked up a bronze medal in the 200 yard IM in 1:40.73, just 0.06 behind Chase Kalisz and Mark Szaranek who tied for first. He also picked up a silver and bronze in the 400 and 200 yard medley relays and fourth place finishes in the 400 and 800 yard freestyle relays.
National and International Swimming:
Despite having just started college, Murphy already had quite the resume at the national and international level. In 2011, Murphy was named to the US National Junior Team for the 200-meter backstroke. As a member of the National Junior Team, Murphy traveled to Lima, Peru to compete at the 2011 FINA World Junior Championships. In Peru, Murphy finished third in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 1:59.63 and first in the 800-meter freestyle relay with a 7:27.40. That year, Murphy also competed at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. At Pan-Ams, Murphy finished third in the 200-meter backstroke with a 1:58.50.
The following year, Murphy was named to the 2011-2012 National Junior Team, his second National Junior Team, for his 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. As a member of the National Team, Murphy competed at the 2012 FINA SCM World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. In Turkey, Murphy finished third in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 1:48.86. In 2012, Murphy also qualified to compete for a spot on the US Olympic Team at the 2012 US Olympic Trials. At the trials, Murphy just missed the Olympic Team finishing fourth in the 200-meter backstroke (1:57.39) and sixth in the 100-meter backstroke (53.92).
2013 World Championship Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Murphy was named to the US National Team in 2012-2013 for the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. In 2013, Murphy competed for a spot on the World Championship Team in Indianapolis, Indiana. Murphy just missed the World Championship Team finishing third in the 200-meter backstroke (1:56.37), third in the 100-meter backstroke (53.38), and fifth in the 50-meter backstroke (25.04).
2013 US Open Championships (Irvine, California)
Several months later at the 2013 US Open Championships, Murphy won silver in the 100-meter backstroke and gold in the 200-meter backstroke.
2014 US Nationals (Irvine, California) & Pan Pacific Championships (Gold Coast, Australia)
Murphy was named to the 2014 US National team for the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke after he won silver medals in both events at the 2014 US Nationals.
Carrying his successful 2013-2014 season through to the summer, he won a bronze medal in the 100-meter backstroke (53.27) and swam to a fourth place finish in the 200-meter backstroke (1:56.17) at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. Murphy was also selected to compete at the upcoming 2015 FINA World Championships.
2015 World Championships (Kazan, Russia)
At the 2015 World Championships, which were held in Kazan, Murphy was selected to the team to swim the 200-meter backstroke. Murphy moved on to the championship final, taking home a fifth-place in the 200-meter back. Where Murphy shocked was in the preliminary heat of the 4×100-meter mixed relay, where he led off in the backstroke leg. Murphy’s time was the number one in the world, and would’ve won the gold medal in the 100-meter event. His quick split was enough for him to take over the finals position in the 400-meter medley relay. Although he added about a second, Murphy helped the men win a gold medal.
2016 U.S Olympic Trials (Omaha, Nebraska)
Murphy qualified for his first Olympic Games in Omaha with a gold in the 100 meter backstroke. At the half way point he was in second place just behind David Plummer. Both were under world record pace and pulling away from the rest of the field, which included defending Olympic Champion, Matt Grevers. Murphy got to the wall first in 52.26, just 0.02 ahead of Plummer.
The 200 meter backstroke was owned by Murphy too. He pulled away from his Cal teammate Jacob Pebley at the halfway point and kept the lead the rest of the way, adding his second individual event for Rio.
2016 Olympics (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
In his first Olympic Games, Murphy kept the United States 100 meter backstroke win streak alive. He took gold in a new Olympic record, taking the U.S win streak in the event to six. At the halfway point, it was anyone’s race, with Murphy turning in fifth. But over the final few meters, Murphy pulled away to take the gold in 51.97 ahead of China’s Jiayu Xu. Murphy’s country mate, David Plummer rounded off the medal positions, finishing 3rd.
He pulled off the backstroke double when he won the 200 in 1:53.62 ahead of the 2015 World Champion, Mitch Larkin of Australia. Murphy had the slight advantage at the half way point, but his dominant underwater work off the final turn pulled him ahead of the field. He held on to take the gold three tenths faster than Larkin.
In the final swimming event of the 2016 Rio Games, Murphy joined Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian and Cody Miller in the 4×100 meter medley relay. Murphy led off the relay in a blistering 51.85, a new World Record, to give USA a big head start. Miller took over for the breaststroke leg and managed to keep USA in second place, just behind Great Britain. Phelps regained the lead and Adrian stretched the distance even more. USA won in a new Olympic Record of 3:27.95 to give Murphy three golds out of three events at his Olympic debut.
Ryan Murphy launched his professional swimming career on the eve of the 2017 Phillips 66 U.S. Summer Nationals (aka U.S. World Trials) by signing with swimwear giant Speedo USA. At the trials, he qualified for the World Championships in the 200 meter backstroke by taking the gold in 1:54.30. He added a pair of silver medals in the 50 and 100 meter backstroke to complete the backstroke triple for the Championships in Budapest. He also swam in the 10o meter freestyle final, finishing 8th.
2017 World Championships (Budapest, Hungary)
On day three Murphy won a bronze medal in the 100 meter backstroke in 52.59. It was an extremely tight fight for the finish between Murphy, his teammate Matt Grevers and Jiayu Xu of China. The USA were dethroned in the event they have dominated for so long. Xu touched first with Grevers right behind.
A day later, Murphy was back in action in the heats of the 400 meter mixed medley relay. He lead USA off in 52.34 to give the team a lead. Kevin Cordes, Kelsi Worrell and Mallory Comerford followed to combine in a new World Record of 3:40.28. He was replace in the final by Matt Grevers on the backstroke leg where USA took the gold to give Murphy his second medal of the meet.
In his second individual event, the 200 meter backstroke, Murphy won silver medal. He touched in 1:54.21 behind Russia’s Evgeny Rylov. Rylov went out on the first 100 like a rocket, over one and a half second faster the Murphy who turned in second. Despite his final two 50’s being faster than Rylov’s there was too much distance to catch up on. His teammate Jacob Pebley finished behind him in third.
On the final day of the meet, Murphy won a gold medal for his efforts in the heats on the 4×100 meter medley relay. He joined with Cody Miller, Tim Phillips and Townley Haas to qualify Team USA into the final seeded first. Matt Grevers, Kevin Cordes, Caeleb Dressel and Nathan Adrian took the gold in the final.
Fall 2017 – Murphy Recaps Fall Training
2017 Winter National Championships (Columbus, Ohio)
Murphy and Pebley battled in the backstroke events in Columbus, Ohio. In both races, Murphy managed to pull ahead and touch the wall first with the times of 45.03 and 1:38.32. He also ended up in second place in the 200IM behind Chase Kalisz.
2018 U.S. National Championships (Irvine, California)
Murphy won the 50 backstroke in an American record and U.S. Open record time of 24.24, securing his spot for the 2019 World Championships. He also won gold in the 100 backstroke (52.51) and 200 backstroke (1:54.15) at the Phillips 66 National Championships, putting him on the 2018 Pan Pac team. Murphy finished 15th in the 100 freestyle (48.98).
2018 Pan Pacific Championships (Tokyo, Japan)
Murphy had an excellent start to the pan pacs, breaking the championship record in the morning of day 2 in the 100 back with a 52.19 before besting that in finals with a 51.94 to win gold. That finals swim tied Aaron Piersol for the 3rd fastest performance of all time. On day 4, Murphy earned a pair of golds, first winning the 200 back in a meet record of 1:53.57. He finished off his pan pacs performance with a gold in the men’s 4×100 medley relay, leading off for USA in a time of 52.70.
2018 Short Course World Championships (Hangzhou, China)
On Day 2 of SC worlds, Murphy claimed gold in a very hotly contested 100 back, touching just .03 ahead of Jiayu Xu of China (49.23 to 49.26). On day 3, Murphy swam prelims of the 4×50 mixed medley relay, which went onto earn gold in finals. On day 4, Murphy swam the final of the 50 back, again in a very tight field, touching .05 behind Russia’s Evgeny Rylov to earn silver (22.58 to 22.63). On day 5, he led off USA in the 4×50 medley relay, where USA ultimately touched 2nd. On the last day of competition, Murphy earned another silver medal in the 200 back, again being bested by Russia’s Rylov. He ended the meet by teaming up with team USA in the men’s 4×100 medley relay, leading off on the backstroke leg and helping the team to gold.
2018 US Male Swimmer of the Year
After his massive successes at both the 2018 Pan Pacs and 2018 Short Course World Champs, Ryan Murphy was SwimSwam’s 2018 US Male Swimmer of the Year.
ISL – LA Current
On June 18, 2019, Ryan Murphy was announced as a member of the LA Current ISL team, headed by GM Lenny Krayzelburg.
2019 World Championships (Gwangju, South Korea)
Murphy started things off in the 100 back, earning a top spot out of semi-finals, but falling to 4th in the final heat with a time of 52.78, just .01 behind bronze. The next night, Murphy led off the 4×100 mixed medley relay, splitting 52.46 to help Team USA get 2nd behind Australia by .02.
On Day 6 in the 200 back final, Murphy won his first individual medal of the meet, giving chase to Evgeny Rylov and touching for silver in a time of 1:54.12.
On Day 8, Murphy finished up individually with the 50 back, touching at 24.53 to place 4th, just .02 outside of medaling. Later in the session, Murphy led off the 4×100 medley relay in 52.92 to help USA touch in 2nd for silver.
2021 Olympic Trials
On night 3 in Omaha, Ryan Murphy qualified for his 2nd Olympic Games, touching first in the 100 back in 52.33. On night 6, Murphy won the 200 back in 1:54.40, qualifying for his 2nd event for Tokyo.
2020 Olympic Games
After moving through the 100 back prelims and semi-finals, Murphy looked primed to defend his 100 back Olympic title. In the final, he finished in 3rd behind Russians Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov, earning a bronze medal.
Murphy was back in the 200 backstroke, swimming a smart race in the final. For the majority of the race, he was sitting on Russian Evgeny Rylov’s hip before making a move on the 4th 50. Murphy charged, but it wasn’t quite enough to pass Rylov as Murphy touched 2nd to earn Olympic silver in 1:54.15.
Murphy finished his Games in the 4×100 medley relay, leading off USA from lane 1 in 52.31 en route to touching first for a new world record in the event. This netted Murphy a gold, silver, and bronze medal in total from these Games.
-Originally developed by Elle Meinholz