Wednesday 22 November 2017

Swimming: In-form Murphy ready to take on the world

Barry Murphy does his stuff for the photgraphers ahead of the World Championships
Barry Murphy does his stuff for the photgraphers ahead of the World Championships

Mark O'Driscoll

Barry Murphy may be the senior swimmer by some distance in the Irish squad for the World Championships in Barcelona, but he's in the form of his life as he prepares to take on the very best.

In the past fortnight, the Dubliner, who didn't believe he would be picked for Barcelona, has won silver at the French Open in the 50m breaststroke and set a new national record for the 50m butterfly at a meet in Rome.

Now the 27-year-old, who will be joined at the World Championships by Fiona Doyle and Sycerika McMahon, is eager to prove to himself and others that Rio 2016 is a realistic possibility, having competed in London last summer.

"If you had asked me after London would I be aiming for Rio, I would have said no, but when I see the times I have been doing – setting new national records – then I am starting to think it would be a shame not to go for it," said Murphy, who has been based at home following years in the States.

"Being at home and training with guys like Andrew Meegan and Brendan Hyland has been great fun for me. It's great to see two young talented guys who want to reach the Olympic standard, to see their desire.

"I think that has helped me and I feel I can help them.

"Brendan is an outstanding swimmer, he could be the best Ireland has ever had – but don't tell him I said that.

"To be honest, I had really given up on the chance of going to the World Championships. My times had been good, but I hadn't got the 'A' time, so when I got the call, I was delighted and since then I have been really enjoying my swimming and the performances at the French Open and in Rome have shown that.

"I feel so much more relaxed. At my last World Championships I really messed it up because I was so desperate to do well and I just wanted it too much, now I feel chilled.

"Of course I want to give my best, but I just have more of a calmness about me.

"I'm enjoying my swimming more than ever before and I think being back in Europe competing has refreshed me, because after a while in the States, you go to one Grand Prix and it just seems the same as any other.


"It's going to be tough to get a second swim, but you expect that because this is the best in the world. But I couldn't be feeling any more confident, so I'll give it a real blast."

Meanwhile, Keri-Anne Payne emerged battered from an extraordinarily brutal 10km open water race in the championships. She described the swim as being "carnage" as she relinquished her crown at the Moll de la Fusta.

The 25-year-old, who won the world title in 2009 and 2011, was clearly impeded when lying second at one of the turns on the final lap in a savage race, this putting paid to her medal ambitions.

Brazilian pair Poliana Okimoto Cintra and Ana Marcela Cunha took the top two places, with Germany's Angela Maurer in third.

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