What Is It Like to Having A Superstar Brother? Patrick Murphy Answers

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

By Patrick Murphy, Swimming World College Intern

I have been swimming year-round since the age of seven. When my older sister Shannon and I were both swimming summer league, our younger brother, 4-year-old Ryan, decided to give it a try. Ryan is two and a half years younger than me. Growing up, we did everything together. We played basketball, football, soccer, frisbee, kickball, and video games. We also swam together and were lucky enough to be on Junior Olympic relays together as 10 & unders.

At a young age, I liked to swim because I was pretty good at it and I enjoyed racing for the win. In May 2003, my whole perspective on swimming changed.

I was ten and Ryan was seven. He beat me in the 50-meter backstroke. I still remember crying to my mom and wanting to quit. How could I lose to my younger brother? It was a tough pill to swallow. Pretty soon, Ryan started to compete with me in every event. Yes, I was still improving, but he was progressing at a more rapid rate.


Photo Courtesy: Patrick Murphy

Because of Ryan, I began to question if I was actually good; if swimming was the sport for me. I would still win all of my summer league events and I qualified for Junior Olympics. But when Ryan placed ahead of me in my best stroke, butterfly, and was consistently beating me across the board, swimming became tougher to enjoy.

I swam because it was just what I did. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. My body developed slower than most. I was a late bloomer in the pool, so the 13-14 age-group was especially difficult as the more physically mature kids could easily defeat my scrawny frame.

I’m not sure when my mentality changed, but ever since the beginning of high school, I have loved swimming with all of my heart. I finally began to swim for myself. I overcame the feeling that I should swim just because I had always been a swimmer. I credit a lot of this mentality change to Ryan. My little brother valued me as a good trainer during certain distant sets that he didn’t necessarily like. I began to value Ryan for how he could push me in max VO2 sets and sprint sets.

I also began to recognize how teammates reacted to Ryan. He crushed some people’s spirits with his speed and talent, and henceforth, their motivation faltered. But some teammates rose to the challenge of training with Ryan at practice.

I watched him beat 18-year-olds when he was in 7th grade. I watched him knock seniors off of the state medley relay when he was in 8th grade. I realized that I was not alone anymore. My brother had a gift.

While some teammates chose to lose confidence when Ryan succeeded, I admired swimmers like Ian Apple and Teo D’Alessandro that appreciated the challenge of racing a talent like Ryan. Apple is a rising senior swimmer at Florida State, and D’Alessandro is a rising senior captain swimmer at Princeton.

Teo transferred to The Bolles School his junior year of high school and trained with Ryan for two years. Teo pushed Ryan and Ryan helped Teo reach levels in swimming that he had never previously experienced. Swimming with a great talent like Ryan can be inspirational.

Yes, Ryan crushed me when I was younger, but I never would have reached my goals without him. Yes, he still beats me in every event, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will always be Ryan’s biggest fan. He showed me how to dream big.


Photo Courtesy: Patrick Murphy

Notre Dame had been my dream school forever, and all I wanted was to be a part of the Fighting Irish swim team.

But through Ryan’s inspiration, and a lot of hard work, I dropped 20 seconds in the 500 freestyle over a two-year span in high school and achieved my dream.

I committed to Notre Dame, swam to all best times, and even earned the title of team captain. Going into my junior year of high school, no one would have thought that was possible.

I concluded my swimming career this past January, and I am so thankful that Ryan will be in the sport for a while. Hopefully, Ryan continues to inspire me as I move on to a new chapter in life and I continue to inspire him.

Thanks for everything, bro.

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7 years ago

You are an outstanding guy,,,,terrific family,,,Patrick ,,

7 years ago

Class act, and a fantastic athlete!

7 years ago

Great article, Patrick. You both much to be proud of.

7 years ago

Much respect…

Colleen O'Hara
7 years ago

As an Aunt to both of these men, I can’t be prouder. They have set such a wonderful example to their younger cousins. Love you both!

7 years ago

Ryan Murphy

Roger Dickerson
7 years ago


Your Dad told me you were going to work with GE? Get your butt home and I’ beat you so bad in hoops you will have to stay in the house.