By Ryan Gregory
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — The last day of the Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships will never be forgotten for California senior Ryan Murphy. His collegiate career ended with a record-tying eight NCAA championships.
Murphy came from behind to defeat John Shebat of Texas to win the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:36.75. Murphy became the fourth swimmer in NCAA history to finish first in four years in each of two distances of a specific stroke, joining John Naber, Pablo Morales and Brendan Hansen.
His first victory came on Friday in the 100 backstroke. There, his 43.99 second swim fell short of breaking his record time of 43.49 he set last year, but was enough to defeat Shebat.
On Saturday, Murphy was back in his element again, this time in the 200 backstroke. This one was a bit worrisome for Murphy. With a perfect record in the backstroke hanging in the balance, Shebat jumped out to an early lead. Unfazed by the stout competition, Murphy swam the final 50 yards in 24.74 seconds to touch the wall first.
His decorated career earned him a chorus of cheers and a standing ovation as he stood atop the podium for the backstroke for the final time as a collegiate swimmer.
“It’s a testament to my coaching throughout my whole life,” Murphy said. “I improved a lot in college and that’s something I’m really proud of. College swimming is in a good spot. It’s definitely in a better place now than when I came into the NCAA and I’d like to think that I had a part in that.”
After winning three gold medals at the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro, Murphy is primed to make waves in the swimming world. “Next week I start that transition,” Murphy said. “I have some meetings with some agents. I’m definitely very motivated after this meet. I have little, minor details that I need to improve over the next three months before world trials.”