JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Olympics countdown is on and Ryan Murphy is ready.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist is counting down the days until the start of postponed games. As of Wednesday, it’s 100 days until the Opening Ceremonies in Tokyo on July 23. Murphy is ready. Very, very ready.
The Olympics were pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that break, Murphy said on Wednesday, wasn’t all that bad.
“I mean the past year, honestly, for me, I’ve loved it. I was definitely ready to go, from a physical standpoint in March of 2020, and then ultimately when that Olympic decision came down, it was like all right, you know, now we pivot,” Murphy said.
“We’ve now got what, like 15-16 months until the Olympics in 2021 and let’s gear up for that. And now here we are in April of 2021 and I just feel like I’m better than I was in March of 2020. So, I’m really excited about what I can do. I think my training group’s in a good spot. I think USA Swimming’s in a really nice spot. So, I’m really excited to see what Team USA could do this summer.”
Team USA should do very well, especially with two locals likely at the forefront of that. Among all of the Olympic sports, swimming is undoubtedly the one with the most local representation. Dozens of swimmers with area ties have earned qualifying marks for the team trials next month. While most won’t make the cut for Tokyo this year, the future is bright.
It’s the brightest, however, for Murphy and Clay High grad Caeleb Dressel. Murphy and Dressel both got their start in the River City Swim League, swam together on the Bolles Sharks club team and spent time in high school watching either win state championships. Murphy went to Cal and became a swimming powerhouse on the West Coast. Dressel stayed in-state and became a sprinting superstar at Florida.
It all started right here.
“It’s actually insane. Like, if you look at the summer swim meet that Caeleb and I started swimming in is River City,” Murphy said. “And now, you look at us here and 20 years later, we’re competing at the Olympics and trying to win gold. It’s just so cool just to see how life has taken us and where the sport is taking us.”
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials in swimming are quickly approaching. They’re split into two waves this year, the first on June 4-7 and the second June 13-20. Both are in Omaha.
The U.S. swimming team brought home 33 medals in the 2016 Games in Rio, 16 of those golds. Murphy claimed two individual golds, winning the 100 backstroke in an Olympic-record time of 51.97. He added the 200 back in 1:53.62. His 51.85 lead off in the 400 medley relay set a world record and led the U.S. team to gold in that event. Those first Olympics memories remain unforgettable for Murphy, 25.
“I would say 95% of my training is for the 200 back just because it’s that hard of a race. And so, to be able to kind of come out on top on that one, I think that one honestly meant the most to me,” Murphy said of the 2016 Games.
“And then that 400 medley relay, I was swimming with legends. I was swimming with guys that changed the sport (Cody Miller, Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps) that I looked up to so much.”