Ryan Murphy Analyzes His 2021 Olympic Games Backstroke Competition

Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.comIn this Gold Medal Minute takeover of the SwimSwam Podcast with 3-time Olympic Champion Ryan Murphy, we cover a lot of topics.

Unpacking 2017-2021

2017 World Champs – Murphy was off because he achieved everything he wanted at the 2016 Olympics. In ’17, he lost a bit of focus. He was still fast, but at the top, he learned that year that he has to be fully engaged.

2018 Pan Pacs – when Murphy hit his 200 back PB (1:53.57), he rested a full six weeks.  Murphy has big man strength. He knows he needs 5-6 weeks of taper.

2019 World Champs – Murphy said he felt great, was ready to race, but he simply had a bad meet against great competitors.

2021 Olympic Trials – Murphy was rested 3 weeks. He felt confident and in control–exactly where he needed to be. Of course Murphy won the 100 back (52.33) and 200 back (1:54.4).

Who Does Murphy Fear? 

Murphy said he fears no one, but he does respect his competitors, and he unpacks them in this podcast.

Raising Talent

I thought Shaine Casas would make the Olympic Team, and he got close, netting 3rd in the 100m backstroke (52.76) at U.S. Olympic Trials.  Murphy said he followed Shaine’s success, and that new talent like Shaine gave him a sense of urgency in training this past year.


Murphy talks about his post Olympic plans.  At this point in time, he has been retained by LA Current’s General Manager Lenny Krayzelburg for Season 3.


100 back? I see a repeat of the 2016 Olympics. Ryan Murphy dips under 52 seconds, edging China’s Jiayu Xu for the gold.  Russian Evgeny Rylov takes the bronze. (And, yes, this is shot in the dark. I could see Jiayu, Rylov, Kolesnikov and/or Murphy make a mistake and missing the podium. It’s going to be a tight race. Would be interesting if upstart Hunter Armstrong makes the podium.)

200 back? Evgeny Rylov wins. Rylov’s 1:52.9 to 1:53 low. With 3 more weeks of rest Murphy tops his PB, 1:53.4 for silver. The UK’s Luke Greenbank makes the podium with a 1:54 low.

4×100 Medley Relay?  I want to see Team USA earn gold. Getting past the U.K squad will be tough. For Team USA I think Michael Andrew has to put down a 57+  in the 100 breast, and Zach Apple has to split 46.8 on the anchor. (Apple was a 46.8 split at 2019 World Champs.) I’m leaving it there, because it’s not about what I think. It’s all about what you think. I really want to know your thoughts on the 4×100 medley Olympic final…

Follow Ryan Murphy on Instagram here.

Follow Gold Medal Mel on INSTAGRAM HERE


This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.

Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the interviewed guests do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the hosts, SwimSwam Partners, LLC and/or SwimSwam advertising partners.

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27 days ago

I’m gonna tell the truth what I think. Murphy is going have a hella fight there, but at the end he will manage to close a bit faster than others to win 2 golds. Feel hella good

Reply to  Respect
27 days ago

Not a bad take.

I honestly think the backstroke wins will be split this year. It seems like the field is too good or deep for someone to sweep. Haven’t made my mind up yet on who I think will win which one…but I’m not seeing a sweep, personally.

Reply to  Respect
27 days ago

If he doesn’t have another killer double like at Euros, I can see Kolesnikov with the 100 Back upset, and Rylov with the 200 Back in a Russian sweep. 100 – Kolesnikov, Murphy, Xu and 200 – Rylov, Murphy, Greenbank

Reply to  25Backstroke
27 days ago

Tbh Kolesnikov (or frankly, any one of Murphy, Rylov, or Xu) winning isn’t exactly an upset–Larkin or Ceccon would be.

Lex Soft
Reply to  HJones
13 days ago

Thomas Ceccon ? What about Apostolos Christou (52.77) and Mewen Tomac (52.86) ? Currently their records are better than Jiayu Xu. But the newcomers from USA are impressive too, so I can see James Armstrong in the podium.

27 days ago

Are those hickies on Ryan’s necks? lol

Last edited 27 days ago by monsterbasher
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
26 days ago

And lost.

Max Hardie
27 days ago

If Murphy goes 51.9-52.1 Andrew will have a good advantage and even when Peaty will pass him, Andrew will finish 0.5 behind at the most. Then Dressel will do his part and give Apple at least 0.5 sec lead, and not even Dressel would catch him. The US is the favorite unless Andrew goes too fast and brings it home too slow. But it’s gonna be tight with UK and Russia.

Reply to  Max Hardie
27 days ago

Andrew going out fast won’t be good. Peaty will be able to draft first 50 a bit, and andrew will hold him off as much as possible so he gets as little draft benefit as possible. Those hundredths will count in this race

Reply to  NCAA>ISL
27 days ago

I didn’t know you could draft while swimming breaststroke, I thought the waves would make it harder

Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
27 days ago

USA will bag this one
Backstroke swim will be enough to give Andrew’s a cushion
Then the USA fly leg not bad either have confidence and the race is yours
The Uk full of confidence that will soon drop off
Will have a little smirk when Furness and spice out their heads in their hands

Wanna Sprite?
27 days ago

Is kolesnikov not swimming 1back?

27 days ago

The medley relay discussion all going to be academic when Armstrong leads off with a faster split than Dressel.

27 days ago

You can always tell when someone is tapering right when they have some extra pep in their step or some enthusiasm in their voice. My friends even noticed it in myself back in the day when I used to train hard enough to justify a full taper. Ryan definitely seems much more enthusiastic and energized than normal in this podcast. I’m hoping this is an indicator that he’s hitting his taper right.

Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
27 days ago

A properly tapered Ryan Murphy will be a sight to see

27 days ago

I think he could win the 100 but the 200 is Rylov’s to lose.
I think Rylov is the only one who could double. Since last worlds when he hit 51.97 on the mixed medley and already 52.12 this year.

Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
27 days ago

100 back is definitely likely.
In 200 back he needs Rylov to underperform (like what Larkin did in 2016) if he wants to win.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
27 days ago

which is less likely given how consistent rylov has been over the last 6 years

27 days ago

Good podcast! American backstrokers come across as unusually chilled and Murphy is no exception.

In terms of predictions …

In the 100 – If I were Murphy I think I’d ‘fear’ Kolesnikov the most. He’s just got the most raw speed. He’s also massive and he’s the youngest of the main contenders. He has the most weapons for me. If anyone is going to do something jaw dropping I’d say it’s Kolesnikov. I’m going with Kolesnikov for the win.

(Gold Medal Mel obviously has KK outside the medals though so I’m almost certainly wrong!)

200 is less competitive for me and should really be a head-to-head between Rylov and Murphy. I’ll go with Murphy to earn redemption from… Read more »

Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Jamie5678
27 days ago

People tend to be more excited about young stars and sometimes forget how good some veterans are.

In my opinion Rylov>Kolesnikov
The probability of Rylov winning 200 >>The probability of Kolesnikov winning 100.

Rylov currently tops the world rankings in both backstroke events, leading by 1s in the 200. He has better techniques, better backstroke range (can swim super fast from 50 to 200), better stamia, and better race strategies than his young countryman. He’s proven to be a racer from time to time. He edged out Kolesnikov in 100 at Russian trials, and then Greenbank in 200 at Euros (while being untapered). He has consistently gone 1:53 low in 200 back since 2017, winning every major championships.

If… Read more »

Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Fukuoka
27 days ago

Thanks for the reply. What you say makes sense – I certainly think you’re right that there’s a tendency to get over-excited about the younger swimmers. It’s arguably the case however that it can be be under-estimated how difficult and rare it is to sustain a peak / improve. You’re right though that the evidence at the moment does point very slightly toward Rylov.

The more I think about these races to be honest, the more I have no clue at all what’s going to happen!

Reply to  Jamie5678
27 days ago

Murphy is already a 3x Olympic champion. He’s got no pressure

Reply to  Pvdh
27 days ago

Yes pvdh- I’d agree that’s a factor. Partly because of that – and this isn’t really scientific at all – but more so than most, Murphy for me exudes the confidence of an Olympic champion. I suppose there’s a few swimmers who have folded a little in the last year, there’s a few that have steadily continued their progression and then there’s a select few who seem to really raise their game in Olympic year.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Jamie5678
27 days ago

He hasn’t raised his game yet to his 2016 times. He’s like many Olympians (Phelps being the most dramatic example) who truly peak at one Olympics, fall back over the ensuing years, and come back to nearly their top form.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
27 days ago

But Murphy top 200 back is not enough to beat rylov (locthe textile probably gone)

Lex Soft
Reply to  Jamie5678
13 days ago

So Andrey Minakov is supposed to anchor for Russian team, right ? But, why does he turn to or more focus on freestyle, while he was the silver medalist in 100m fly at WC 2019 with 50.8 when he was 17 years old ?
Currently, in 100m fly he had 51.17, whereas Mikhail Vekovischev had 51.40.
Vladislav Grinev was the main man in freestyle for Russia at WC 2019, and currently still has good record with 47.85, not far behind Minakov with 47.74.
Oh, I forget Kliment Kolesnikov. He has 47.31 in 100m free.
So if I were the team manager, I would go with :

  1. Evgeny Rylov
  2. Kiril Prigoda
  3. Andrey Minakov
  4. Kliment Kolesnikov
Lex Soft
Reply to  Jamie5678
13 days ago

Italy are really interesting, based on their individual records :

  1. Thomas Ceccon : 53.02
  2. Nicolo Martinenghi : 58.29
  3. Federico Burdisso : 51.39
  4. Alessandro Miressi : 47.45

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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