Ryan Murphy gives us a glimpse of his swimming future


Four-time Olympic gold medalist ryan murphy has been busy, recently winning two bronze and a silver at the Indy World Cup stop in November. Murphy sat with the SwimSwam podcast to discuss his most recent performances and the upcoming World Short Course Championships in 2023.

“One foot in front of the other”

Murphy said it was still early in the season for him after his World Cup performance. After returning to the pool in early September after a short break and some surgeries, Murphy said he knew he wouldn’t have much time to rest for the Indy meet. Instead, most of his training would be for July 2023, for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka.

“The season is really one foot in front of the other and I keep that mentality going all summer long,” Murphy said.

He added that he was pretty happy with how the Indy competition went and that it helped him get back into shape with the right competition. For example, competing against Dylan Carter, who narrowly won the 50m backstroke; and Shaine Casaswho won the 100m and 200m backstroke.

Murphy said he loves big competitions, and that’s why he swims. In fact, he doesn’t like the back in the sense that he’s never able to anchor a throw.

“The adrenaline is better than anything I’ve ever experienced,” Murphy said. “I would love to have a backstroke stint that I could anchor one day.”

Compare big matches

It’s a good thing Murphy loves big meets because he’s swum in almost every one of them. He broke down comparisons between FINA World Cup competitions – of which Murphy is a staple – and ISL competitions. Murphy competed for the LA Current ISL team.

Above all, he said, both encounters increase opportunities for swimmers, which has always been Murphy’s greatest position. But he said the real preference comes down to whether you prefer individually focused encounters or team-focused encounters.

“There’s more pressure when you’re swimming in a team environment,” Murphy said. “The pressure and the excitement are kind of the same for me. I get really excited when people are counting on me to win races, score points for the team…I think the quality of the races was probably better at world Cup.

In general, Murphy said he doesn’t want to watch any sport that isn’t directly head-to-head, with individuals or teams in direct competition with each other. In that sense, it’s fortunate that all of sport is improving, including the technology used to record swimmers for television.

“It’s a great opportunity to run”

Currently, Murphy is focused on the World Short Course Championships in December, which will be held in Australia. Thanks to Cal’s unique academic schedule, the team trains a little closer to winter break, and Murphy noted that it’s a tough, but good time of year to compete.

“It’s a great opportunity to race, December is always an interesting time,” Murphy said. “Cal’s semester is a little later than other schools, the last two weeks before Christmas, the boys and girls have their study week and their graduation week, so there’s just a lot It’s just a tough time of year, so I like the World Championships time as a good way to stay locked in, and also to keep myself really engaged in day-to-day training. It’s fun to have higher level competition like this to look forward to, and it increases the urgency to push the practice as hard as possible.

He said the timing of the meet creates a natural mid-season rest and the travel time to Australia will bring some rest.

Looking ahead to 2023, in addition to focusing on Worlds in July, Murphy acknowledges that it will also be a pre-Olympic year.

“There’s definitely a time in the Olympic year, in 2024, where it’s like, ‘Honestly, all I can do right now is screw it up,'” Murphy said. “I definitely think about it that way, but until then there are always things you can do to improve.”

On top of everything else, Murphy recently met with FINA’s new leadership, and he talked about the organization’s desire to have lots of people in the same room to meet and open up lines of communication.

Those lines of communication could be increasingly important as the organization decides to let Russian and Belarusian swimmers compete in future meets. Murphy said the contestant in him wants to let everyone compete, but he also understands the layers of decisions that go into determining who gets to compete.

“It’s a situation where there are a lot of mixed feelings,” Murphy said. “On the competitor side, I’m like we’re racing anybody, but trying to be empathetic to the people making those decisions, that’s where my head goes. If I was the decision maker, what are all the things I have to consider?And there are a lot of things – I don’t envy the final decision makers on this.

Will Murphy compete in the 2028 Olympics?

Isn’t that always the last question? Murphy, despite his love of a good plan, plays this decision more by ear, but he admits he has chills at the thought of competing in an Olympics on home soil.

Murphy said ultimately his goal is to have a few great options for his future and then choose between them, and understanding the bridge between his swimming career and his career after swimming is key.

“I try to think of things as simply as possible: what do I really love about swimming that I want to lead in my next career and what was I really good at school that can translate into a career?” Murphy said. “I’d like to swim forever and I’d like it to be financially viable, but there’s so much to consider in this conversation.

He is already taking a few steps for his future in to marry Bridget Kontinen in 2023. Konttinen was a varsity athlete and Murphy said he knows the couple will still be active no matter when he decides to retire.

Another factor weighing on him is his pressure to start his adult life. Last time he was on the podcast, Murphy discussed his desire to work in the venture capital industry and the work he has done to build those relationships.

“It’s always natural to look at what your peers are doing, what your friends are doing, and think you should be doing the exact same thing,” Murphy said. “But it’s really such a simple conversation that if I text my friends and ask them to complain about their work, I’ll get a response and I’ll get their honest feedback. I feel really lucky to be able to swim, to do this at a high level and still be very excited about it.

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