Personal and Youth Swimming:
Ryan Murphy was born July 2, 1995 in Jacksonville, Fla. 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).
In his Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Held became a triple Olympic Champion after winning the backstroke double and the 4×100 meter medley relay. In his relay appearance, he broke the 100 meter backstroke World Record on the lead off leg in the final in 51.85.
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.
2015-2016 Murphy lowered his own NCAA, American, Championship and Pool Records in the 100 Backstroke by .02 seconds. 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 Championships
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
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 & Pan Pacific Championships
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
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
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 Rio Olympics
In his first Olympic Games, Murphy keeps 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.
-Originally developed by Elle Meinholz