Meet the 2016 USA Olympic Swim Team: Ryan Murphy

Meet first-time Olympian Ryan Murphy.  High school and college swimming fans have long witnessed his prowess with the Bolles School Sharks and Cal Bears, and following a double-gold performance in Omaha, Murphy is in the final stages of fulfilling the “future of American backstroke” destiny bestowed upon him years ago.  In his “Meet the Team” video, Ryan touches on his background, what he finds most rewarding about swimming, and an unorthodox way he used to deal with nerves before races (perhaps unintentionally).

More information on Murphy, courtesy of his official SwimSwam bio:

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).


Murphy is in his second season as a Golden Bear at the University of California-Berkeley. Murphy swims under head coach Dave Durden and is one of the NCAA’s top backstrokers.  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.




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 the100-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.

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4 years ago


Brian Miller
4 years ago

Excellent job in the pool and such an intellect and high end speaker out of the pool. You make USA proud young man! Congrats!!

About Morgan Priestley

Morgan Priestley

A Stanford University and Birmingham, Michigan native, Morgan Priestley started writing for SwimSwam in February 2013 on a whim, and is loving that his tendency to follow and over-analyze swim results can finally be put to good use. Morgan swam competitively for 15+ years, primarily excelling in the mid-distance freestyles. While …

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