JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After bringing home three Olympic gold medals, Jacksonville native Ryan Murphy is back in California preparing for his senior year at Cal-Berkeley.
His parents, Katy and Pat Murphy, were in the stands with their whole family as Ryan raced for the gold in Rio in record-breaking style.
Ryan Murphy won the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter backstroke, setting an Olympic record in the 100 with a time of 51.97 seconds.
Then on the final night of swimming competition in Rio, Murphy broke a world record in leading off the gold-medal winning men's 4x100-meter medley relay, which included swimming icon Michael Phelps.
"I'm blown away and shocked. It hasn't hit me the ramification of what he did,” Katy Murphy said.
Pat Murphy said he knew Ryan was capable of such a high-level performance, based on his previous times.
"I'm just so proud and happy for Ryan. Over the years, he's worked very hard. To see all that hard work pay off was just really special,” Pat Murphy said.
As a 7-year-old, Ryan made a handwritten book, dedicated to his mom, that expressed his hopes to one day become a world-record breaking Olympian.
“I want to be the best swimmer in the world,” he wrote.
He earned a place on that list by becoming the first swimmer since Aaron Piersol in 2004 to sweep the backstroke events at the Olympics.
He followed those wins with a record-breaking turn in the medley relay.
"The strategy for the U.S. was we had to get out in front with Ryan's backstroke. When he finished he gave our breaststroker a great lead,” Pat Murphy said.
That performance brought a proud mom back to Ryan's young days as a competitive swimmer.
"He always had those surprise moments in the water that were just so special,” she said. “I would look at him and say, 'How did you just do that?' and he's like, 'Well, I don't know, I wanted the trophy.'"
Now he has three of the most coveted trophies in sports, and his biggest supporters were there to watch it all unfold.
"I just had pure joy, pure pride, joy,” Katy Murphy said.
"It was a wonderful thing to be there and experience it,” Pat Murphy said.
They said they are so appreciative for the support of the Jacksonville community and their swim families throughout the unforgettable journey, which Ryan's parents say will likely continue to the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Despite his success, Ryan continues to be low-key and humble, his parents said.
“He doesn't want to draw attention to himself,” Pat Murphy said.
That attention might be hard to avoid, now that he has all that hardware.