Wish You Were Here: Ryan Murphy’s World Championships Journal

Editor's note: Ryan Murphy contributed regular journal entries exclusive to Swimming World as he traveled and competed with the United States contingent at the short course world championships in Istanbul, Turkey. Our thanks to Ryan Murphy for sharing his thoughts, and to Sergio Lopez for help in getting Ryan's entries to us!

Saturday, December 8, 2012
We arrived today in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a very long day. My traveling began yesterday when I arrived at the airport (in Florida) around 10 a.m. for my flight. As I waited to check my bag for my flight, I noticed that it had been cancelled. Luckily, I was able to get onto a flight that departed just two hours later to the same destination of Newark. Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer did not share in my luck. They arrived at the airport about five minutes later, and were supposed to be on the same cancelled flight. However, they could not reschedule their flight until a day later. As they tried to find a flight, Ryan Lochte talked to me about his attire. He showed me his diamond watch (very expensive), bracelet and necklace. I asked him for Lil' Wayne's number, but he rejected my request. I traveled through security and had an uneventful flight to Newark.

I met up with the team in Newark, and we boarded the plane. We were able to watch movies on a screen in front of our seat for free throughout the flight. If not for this amenity, it would have been miserable!

Nine hours later of sleeping and talking, we landed here in Instanbul. We ate and went up to our rooms. Some people got their own rooms, but not the young guns. My roommate is Kevin Cordes, American record holder and a sophomore at Arizona. I fell asleep right when we got into the room and he had to wake me for our trip to the pool.

The pool's final touches are being finished, but it is a huge facility which will be conducive to an exciting environment. I'm excited to see what the next week and a half will bring. Go USA!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day three in Istanbul started just as all of the others have: We woke up and ate breakfast. The breakfast is pretty good, as the hotel has an omelette station. They serve hot dogs for breakfast though, which is a little weird. We were off to the pool following the meal, and traffic was horrible. Our buses have a police escort and it still took about 50 minutes to get to the pool when it has usually been taking about 10. I didn't see it, but apparently our police escort was working hard and kicked a car. So we all gave him a round of applause when we finally got off the bus.

Swimming went well today. I felt good in the water and everyone else looked like they were swimming well also. The coaches all seem excited for the meet to start. I always enjoy seeing some of the best swimmers at these meets. I try to observe some things they do and learn from them. I saw Fred Bousquet and Chad Le Clos today, and both do some pretty impressive things.

Once we arrived back at the hotel, we ate and got ready for our tour of Istanbul. Our tour guide was very informative, managing to put Josh Schneider asleep, and making us all feel like we were in a history class. It reminded me of all the make-up work I've got to do! We got off the bus and our tour shifted to the Topkapi Palace. We all embraced being tourists and took lots of pictures. Ryan Lochte was drooling when we got to look at the jewels. The Sultan got some nice gifts! I tried to take pictures but we weren't supposed to, so I had to be sneaky. After that, we walked over to the Blue Mosque. It was beautiful. It is amazing to see all of the different designs that are included on the walls and ceilings. Our tour guide told us that one single tile from that mosque was valued at more than $100,000.

After this long tour, we drove back to the hotel and ate, bringing us to now. It was a fun day, but we are all going to sleep really well tonight. Two days until the meet starts. I'm excited to watch! I've got to wait around until the last day, so I'm definitely going to be anxious to race by the time that comes around. Go USA!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Today, many members of Team USA put on their game faces. No one seemed intimidated by the stage of competition. Everyone that competed today raced well. I think that confidence is the biggest difference between the Junior Team and National Team. On Junior Team trips, everyone is so excited to just be included in an international competition. We enjoy socializing with each other and of course, get super amped for the meet. On National Team trips, the majority of the team has already raced at a meet of this magnitude.

Also, the athletes know each other from their experiences on previous teams together. While the level of excitement regarding selection to the team, in some cases, is probably less than the thrill for a Junior Team member, the level of focus to reach goals is much higher.

The morning session was a good one. There were maybe 50 spectators outside of the teams in attendance, but that didn't prevent fast swimming. I'm not familiar with short course meters, so I really can't comment on which swims ranked as great times, but I know the U.S. was near the top in each race. My roommate, Kevin Cordes, swam well, despite me waking him up in the middle of the night from sleepwalking. Apparently I fell on him twice, but I don't remember a thing.

The finals session was even more impressive than prelims. There was actually a crowd tonight! We were assigned seats in the upper level of the stands, and to say it was warm up there would be an understatement. I guess Turks like to be really warm because they all were wearing jackets and pants while we were sweating in our seats. The United States was victorious in the Men's 200 Free, Men's 400 Free Relay and Women's 800 Free Relay. There was so much fast swimming tonight and I would be up for a really long time writing this if I mentioned every good swim! Everyone is racing well or is getting excited to race. There will be many more days of fast swimming for team USA!

Friday, December 14

Night three was another good one for Team USA. The building was cooler than usual so the night started off right! I warmed up so I missed the first couple of events, but I was able to watch on the projector in the warm up pool area. Warm up went well, and I got run over less than I have been, which was a pleasant surprise. After my dip in the pool, I went up into the stands and cheered with the rest of Team USA.

USA's cheering section tonight was the best it has been the entire meet. Matt McLean, Garrett Weber-Gale and Scott Weltz can all yell pretty loud, and each contributed in making USA the rowdiest in all the stands … that is, until the lone Turkish swimmer in the session walked out for her semifinal. The crowd went ballistic. Sadly, the girl finished 15th in the semifinals and we will not get to hear the Turks again tomorrow night. They were quiet the rest of the meet.

Ryan Lochte was able to bring them to their feet again, though! His 200 IM World Record was the first world record I have ever witnessed in person, and it was absurd. He looked like that one kid in summer league who swims year-round and demoralizes everyone else. The night wrapped up well for USA, and everyone is getting antsy for their meets to end … or in my case, start.

On the bus ride back, everyone heard the news about the shooting in Connecticut. We are all sending our thoughts and prayers to Connecticut.

Friday, December 21

Sorry this last journal took so long to write. After the final session, we all went back to the hotel to pack for our travel the next day and I was too tired by the time I finished throwing my stuff in my bag to write. Anyway, the final day was the first day I swam! For some reason, I was really sleepy in the morning, and I think that showed in my prelims swim in the 200 backstroke. The coaches believed I would be the best prelim option for the medley relay, and that was an honor I gladly accepted. Representing your country on a relay is one of the greatest feelings there is.

After the prelims session, I went back to the hotel, and took a nap. I felt a lot better when I woke up. A couple of people came up to me before the session telling me they thought I could win the 200 back that night, and I thought they were crazy. It's hard to have confidence against a guy who had been making his competitors look like little boys the rest of the meet. Once I walk into the ready room though, I am a racer. I don't care who is next to me; I am going to try to race them. And so that was my game plan. Once the doors separated before me, and I walked out to race, I decided to go for it.

I took the race out fast and held on for as long as I could. I wouldn't take anything back from my race, except my approach to the last turn. The race finished and I looked up to the scoreboard. I surprised myself by placing third. Medalling was my goal, but I had no idea what to expect because it was my first short course meters meet.

The awards ceremony came next. There were a lot of cheers for Ryan and a big sign saying Ryan on it, so I told myself that everyone loved me. It was pretty funny watching all the Turkish kids scream for Lochte's medal when we walked around the pool deck. The look on the kid who received the medal was priceless. He kind of got thrown up the stairs, but the boy was so happy that he didn't care.

The rest of the session was boring for me because I got stuck in drug testing for a long time. We took a bus to the hotel, and ate dinner. Mark Dylla and I wanted to boost our Twitter following, so we took pictures with medals and the team trophy. We tried to convince Anthony Ervin to retweet us, but he didn't. We found Lochte (who has a million followers) in hope of a generous retweet, but he rejected us too! It was a disappointing end to a great night!

The trip to Istanbul for short course worlds was a great experience. I met a lot of new people and had a great time representing the USA. The meet was a lot of fun, but it is good to be back home. I missed my family and friends. I'll finish this off the way we ended most of our meetings: Go USA!

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