At age 5, Ryan Murphy began breaking records with his passion and commitment to swimming. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, winning the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events at the NCAA Championships four times. He holds the American Record in five backstroke events and won three gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In 2017, he turned pro, earned the PAC 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year award and graduated from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. At the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and 2018 World Championships, he swept the backstroke events and was named USA Swimming's Male Athlete of the Year. At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, he won gold in the 4x100m medley relay, silver in the 200m backstroke, and bronze in the 100m backstroke. Ryan is passionate about teaching swimming and being a role model for young swimmers. He currently trains in Berkeley, CA, aiming for a third-straight Olympic appearance in Paris.
Beets or beet juice can help improve blood flow, making them a useful food to eat in order to improve performance at both training and meat eating. Transcript: "So I think-- and this isn't non-obvious, but a food that I do think helps a lot-- and more so even at meats than training-- is beets or beet juice. So that's a good vasodilator, opens up the veins to help your blood flow a little bit easier. So beets is a good one."
When performing hand entry for pool pattern, it is important to be aware of your body type and flexibility. You want to get back into the position as far as your shoulder can go, and use your strongest arm angle. Head position varies depending on the body type - some people lean back while others lean up a little bit. Transcript: "All right. So this one is pretty technical. So I think the first thing is to be aware of your body type and your body flexibility. For me, I've got really flexible shoulders. So I'm able to enter-- I mean, I'm able to enter like pretty close to like right behind my head. So that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get back into that position. I mean, some people are going to have to go a little bit wider to be able to get into a catch right away. I'm able to catch back here. So that's the first thing is your entry. You never want to cross over, but you want to go as far back as possible that your shoulder can do it and as quickly as you could catch the water. So that's why I'm thinking on hand entry on pool pattern. The way I think of it is if you're going up for an arm wrestle, that's your arm angle that you want. I mean, you want your strongest arm angle that you can really just kind of like turn it through. And then head position, this one's a little bit gets back down to body type. So I mean, there's some people that really push their head pretty far back. So if you do that, you're going to catch some waves on your shoulders. So that's not my style. I've got big shoulders. So if I'm catching resistance on the shoulders, that is not good for me. So I'm going to keep my head up a little bit higher, be a little bit more core driven. You never want to be tucking, but I think that the head is always going to be in line with the body. But are you going to be leaning back? Are you going to be leaning up a little bit? I tend to lean up. Some coaches don't like that. But that's how I do it. But some people do lean back, and I think it comes down to your body type for that one."
I don't have a favorite lactate set, but the last one we did was a 10x50 all out set which was challenging and helped me learn how to deal with pain. Transcript: "Honestly, I probably don't have a favorite lactate set because I don't really like lactate sets. But in the example of one that that we did, I was maybe like a month or two ago. The college guys had or meat. So I was, I was kind of just swimming alone which made this even less fun. But I think we did it was either 8 or 10. I think it was 10. 1050 is on. Or minutes all out fast. So by the end, I mean you I felt like doodoo but really good for forgetting the lactate spiked learning how to deal with the pain, but not not a very fun set by any means."
The most important technical aspect of butterfly is body position on the water, freestyle is finding a rhythm, breaststroke is not known, and backstroke is finding the balance between tempo and rotation. Transcript: "Yeah, this is a great question. Single most important technical aspect of each swim stroke. I'll start with butterfly. I think it's really-- I think it's really body position on the water. It ends up being kind of an up-and-down type of stroke. So being able to utilize your core to get up and over is something that's really important there. Obviously the [INAUDIBLE] and catch are important everywhere, but I'm going to try to stay away from those. Freestyle, I would say the most important technical aspect for me is finding a rhythm. I think it's an interesting stroke trying to manage the timing of the kick, the catch, turning the head to breathe. Finding the right rhythm of all that's tough. I have no idea what the most important technical aspect of the breaststroke is. I'll pass on that one. And then backstroke, I think the most important technical aspects are really figuring out how much you're going to rotate based on the distance. So there's a lot of different schools of thought in backstroke at the moment. I feel there's a lot of people that are swimming a lot more flat on backstroke. But then on the longer races, people still are rotating. So just kind of figuring out that balance, managing tempo, and basically finding the great balance between tempo and rotation is the most important technical aspect for backstroke."
I attempted a challenging set in the pool while visiting my girlfriend's family at altitude during Christmas break. The set included 500 freestyle, 400 IM, 400 freestyle x2 on 4:30, 300 freestyle x3 on 3:30, and 200 IM x3 on 2:24. It was extremely hard on my lungs and I couldn't finish it as I was swimming alone and had been doing mostly speed training prior. Transcript: "All right. Well, I'll give one from from this December. So it was Christmas break. So everyone was off for the holidays and we had a little group chat with the team about sets that people had done. So I went up to Tahoe. So I was up at I was up at altitude. I was visiting my girlfriend's family and Shawn Grisha put a put a set in the group chat. That was like it sucked. I mean, it really sucked at altitude. So, it was like, I think it was a 500 on, 540 freestyle, a 400, IM on for 40 and then two rounds through a 400 freestyle on 4:30 and a 300. I am on 3:30. And then three times through a 300 free on 320 and a 200 IM on 224 times through blah blah. I mean, you could get The pattern. So as my, it was on my first day up at altitude it for anyone that hasn't trained it out to two days. It's like really hard on the lungs and especially short course. So I went and I was also a little bit out of shape. I had done is L all of November so you could swim there. But you're, you're swimming is really just all speed training. You're not doing it in a robic set like that. So I remember I got, I mean, that I didn't finish it set. I mean, I got I think I got down to like the 300 the 302 in the 200. I did like one round. I was just like my lungs feel like they're about to explode and I was swimming alone which like if I was super the group I probably would have just like powered through it. Like done it with a group of guys but swimming alone, you've got like water aerobics going on two lanes over from you that it's just like mentally the worst thing to see when you're just absolutely eating it in a practice. So that was that was is one of the hardest ones that that I've done kind of given the circumstances."
I think I've hit 125 for two reps on dumbbells for bench press, though it's not a focus of my weight program. Transcript: "Ramzam-- the heavy-hitting questions here-- bench press max. I honestly don't really-- I don't really bench press that much. I'm much more powerful in my legs but-- and we also don't really go with the barbell too much. We go with dumbbells. I think on dumbbells, maybe I've hit-- I'm honestly not exactly positive. I want to say I've hit 125 for two reps, so at 125 in each hand for dumbbell bench. But it's not really-- like that's not a focus. Dumbbell bench is not a focus of my weight program."