Swimming: Murphy targets Euro Long haul
HAVING established himself as a world-class swimmer in 2009, Barry Murphy now believes he can become only the third Irishman to win a European Championship medal.
Gary O'Toole won silver at the European Long Course Championships in 1989 in Bonn and then at the National Aquatic Centre seven years ago Irish team-mate Andrew Bree also picked up silver at the Short Course Championships.
At last year's World Championships, Dubliner Murphy came within a whisker of making the final of the 50m breaststroke and the sprint specialist is adamant that finals in the breast and 50m freestyle are within his grasp when he competes at the European Long Course Championships in Budapest next week.
While the open-water events have been ongoing, the main swimming starts on Monday with Murphy kicking off his campaign in the 100m breaststroke.
Murphy recently switched his training base from the University of Tennessee to Michigan, where he is working with world-renowned coach Mike Bottom and already changes he incorporated into his training are making significant differences.
Speaking from the Irish training camp, Murphy said: "Four years ago at the Europeans in Budapest I made the semi-finals of the 50m free and that was my first senior tournament so obviously I'm feeling even better now.
"I've come a long way in those four years and last year I went to a new level when making the semi-finals of the 50m breast at the World Championships and just missing out on the final.
"Now I know I can go to another level because I have moved to Michigan, to Mike Bottom and I'm just buzzing.
"It's amazing what I've learned about my freestyle stroke in just two months. Mike has got me to flatten out my hips a bit more and get more shoulder into my stroke to get more power.
"When you start you wonder will this work ... but at the Irish championships I tried it and I went fast, I could see it how it was working and in our training camp in Slovenia I felt it coming more and more.
"After all the hard training in Michigan I can feel the tight muscles just freeing up and the stroke getting better and better.
"There are some coaches who are scientists and some who are artists and Mike is an artist, he paints the pictures and we're the blank canvasses. He can spot the precise little things and adjust them to make such a big difference.
"Mike had Gary Hall and Anthony Irvine in the 2000 Olympics, where they tied for gold in the 50m free, and in 2004 he had the gold and silver medal winners -- Hall again got the gold -- so he knows what he's talking about. He's very inspirational.
"I've done about the fifth or sixth fastest 50m breast time in Europe, so I have to be looking at finals in both the 50m breast and 50m free. I just have to bring all my years of experience in racing and go and do the business and if I'm in a final then of course I'll be shooting for a medal.
"The juniors have shown us the way over the past two years with Grainne Murphy winning gold at the 2009 European juniors and Sycerika McMahon getting a medal last month in this year's equivalent, so it's time for the seniors to step up and get a medal."