Three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy explains how he gets himself ready to perform at his best when the medal pressure is on.
51.97 seconds. Those precious seconds earned Ryan Murphy one of his three gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Murphy was 66 tenths-of-a-second faster than China’s Xu Jiayu, an eternity in Olympic swimming where the margins are always razor-thin.
Think about that for a second. Train intensely four years at a time for a 51-second moment in time. So. Much. Pressure.
“The way to deal with pressure, is to deal with pressure,” Murphy attempted to explain to FanSided. “I put myself in positions every week. I overhype how important a situation is so I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in certain moments and then when I get to the big stage I almost downplay that moment.”
Got it? The road map for getting yourself prepared to beat the best, when they are going to be at their best, is yet to be written. Hard work and trying to corral the mental side of competition are the pathways to medal success.
“I’m almost good at tricking myself into thinking that not important things are important and that really important things are not quite as important,” Murphy continued.
Murphy plays daily games with himself mostly in the weight room. But it could be done anywhere.
“If you want to challenge yourself to fold laundry as quickly as possible or unload the dishwasher as quickly as possible, I do think that’s a good way to deal with pressure,” Murphy said.
Challenge accepted. Let’s see how fast I can get that underwear in the drawer so I can feel like an Olympic athlete. Thanks for bringing us all in.
What separates Murphy from the pack in addition to his 6-foot 3 frame, is his work ethic, which developed at an early age. Murphy wanted to become an Olympic swimmer when he was seven years old.
“My parents are very driven individuals,” Murphy said. “They work so hard and having that sort of example growing up it made me want to do the same and that became directionalized in a swimming mannerm and thats really what I decided to go after.”
Patrick and Katy Murphy were there to see their son win gold in Rio. They also set the family alarm for 4:28 a.m. to take their driven son to early-morning swim practice.
That work ethic continued at University of California, Berkeley, where it would be easy to fall into enjoying college life. Murphy’s social life finished third.
“I would get motivated coming out of practice and going into the classroom and sitting next to people who had already started their own businesses,” Murphy said. “I’d go back to the pool and I’d work even harder that would honestly motivate to go back to the classroom and try to compete with all of those people.”
And there you have the blueprint for an Olympic gold medalist three times over, with perhaps more to come at Toyko 2021. On brand, Murphy has done his best to take advantage of the extra time from the pandemic. He felt ready last year, and feels more ready now.
“I’ve gotten a lot better in practice and really every single practice metric I can try and measure myself. I’m better than I ever have been and that really really exciting for me and hopefully that comes together and shows up in the performances this summer,” Murphy said.
Sounds like the practice pressure was turned up even higher so the pressure will be turned down once again this summer.
Ryan Murphy spoke to FanSided on behalf of Lilly. Murphy wants to help others realize the impact of living with migraine and other life-long diseases and that there are options for management and treatment.